DCUBED, the German NewSpace hardware manufacturer, and Solestial, the U.S. solar energy company for space, have announced, on 16th November, a new solar array product designed to make space more affordable.
The new product, a scaled demonstration of which will be on show at this week’s SpaceTechExpo trade show in Bremen, will marry the specialist technologies of both companies, using DCUBED’s in-space manufactured back structure and Solestial’s thin and flexible silicon solar blanket. The back structure element, essentially the support structure for the solar array, will be built in-space when deployed.
Given the high-power consumption of smaller satellites that are now forming the vast bulk of communication constellations, the new deployable smallsat solar array will make an invaluable contribution to reducing mission costs, by reducing both material costs and mass. The companies estimate that those savings could be as much as ten times—one order of magnitude—cheaper than existing solutions.
DCUBED and Solestial will perform an in-orbit demonstration of the solar array in the second half of next year, with a 1kW solar array product ready in 2025 and a 10kW version available in 2026.
Thomas Sinn, the CEO of DCUBED, commented
“I am excited that we will be working with Solestial on a product that promises, in just the next couple of years, to revolutionize power consumption for smallsats. Our planned solar array will drastically reduce the cost of powering orbital transport vehicles, in-orbit servicing missions and the thousands of small satellites that form constellations. Our space heritage in manufacturing and Solestial’s unique approach to ultrathin solar blankets means a best of both worlds approach to satisfying the power needs of the thousands of satellites that will be launched in the next few years.”
”We are thrilled to collaborate with DCUBED on this exciting project,”
said Stan Herasimenka, Solestial Co-Founder and CEO.
“Our silicon solar blankets provide a unique combination of affordability, flexibility, low specific mass and degradation rate that is unsurpassed in the marketplace. DCUBED has been an excellent partner, and we are eager to demonstrate the capabilities of both companies’ technology.”
The two companies, who are currently finalizing contractual arrangements, have already worked together to build a solar panel for a smallsat project that is scheduled to fly in early 2024.
Following the debut of the planned product at the SpaceTechExpo conference, both DCUBED and Solestial will begin discussions to identify early adopters and pilot customers.