Document Type : Scientific extension


1 Assistant Professor, Institute of Materials and Energy, Iranian Space Research Center, Isfahan, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor, Institute of Materials and Energy, Iranian Space Research Center


Supplying the energy demanded by spacecraft and satellites is an ever-increasing need. As a result, it is an active field in developing space technologies. In addition to the commonly used rigid substrate solar arrays, flexible substrate and concentrator solar arrays are other available categories. This paper reviewed the developments and commercial technologies in each category. The flexible solar arrays, implemented in several spacecraft during the last two decades, have recently attracted attention in satellites. It seems that these arrays will replace rigid arrays in the near term due to their higher specific power and smaller stow volume than rigid arrays.


Main Subjects

[1] M. Bille and E. Lishock, The first space race: launching the world’s first satellites. Texas A&M University Press, 2004.
[2] Space Studies Board National Research Council, Recapturing a future for space exploration: life and physical sciences research for a new era. National Academies Press, 2011.
[3] C. M. Green and M. Lomask, Project Vanguard: The NASA History. Courier Corporation, 2012.
[4] H. S. Rauschenbach, Solar cell array design handbook: the principles and technology of photovoltaic energy conversion. Springer Science & Business Media, 1980.
[5] A. K. Hyder, S. Sabripour, D. J. Flood, G. Halpert, R. L. Wiley, and A. K. Hyder, Spacecraft power technologies, vol. 1. World Scientific, 2000,
[6] NASA, “Spacecraft Solar Cell Arrays,” 1971.
[7] Hughes Aircraft Company, “Intelsat VI F-3 Recovery.”
[8] M. R. Drinkwater et al., “The GOCE gravity mission: ESA’s first core Earth explorer,” in Proceedings of the 3rd international GOCE user workshop, 2006, pp. 6–8.
[9]    The European Space Agency, “GOCE Satellite.”
[10]  NASA, “NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive, Explorer 6.”
[11]  Sparkwing, “Satellite Solar Panels.”
[12]  H. Lee and M. Murozono, “Vibration Characteristics and Thermal Structural Dynamic Responses of a Flexible Rolled-up Solar Array,” Trans. Jpn. Soc. Aeronaut. Space Sci., vol. 54, no. 184, pp. 111–119, 2011.
[13] P. A. Jones and B. R. Spence, “Spacecraft solar array technology trends,” IEEE Aerosp. Electron. Syst. Mag., vol. 26, no. 8, pp. 17–28, Aug. 2011,
[14]  L. L. Endelman, “Hubble Space Telescope: mission, history, and systems,” in 19th Intl Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics, 1991, vol. 1358, pp. 422–441.
[15] S. A. Hawley, “Hubble Space Telescope Solar Array Concerns and Consequences for Servicing Mission 2,” J. Spacecr. Rockets, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 15–24, 2016,
[16]  NASA, “Hubble Space Telescope.”
[17]  J. Gibb, “MILSTAR’s flexible substrate solar array: Lessons learned, addendum,” 1990.
[18]  D. J. Hoffman et al., “Concept design of high power solar electric propulsion vehicles for human exploration,” in 62nd International Astronautical Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, 2011, pp. 3–7.
[19]  NASA, “Space Station Gallery.”
[20]  M. F. Piszczor et al., “Advanced solar cell and array technology for NASA deep space missions,” in 2008 33rd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, 2008, pp. 1–5.
[21]  Orbital ATK, “UltraFlexTM Solar Array Systems Fact Sheet,” 2015.
[22]  “ATK-Able Engineering Company Inc.”
[23]  NASA, “Phoenix Mars Lander.”
[24]  A. Mann, “The Cygnus spacecraft: Northrop Grumman’s cargo ship,” 2021.
[25]  NASA, “MegaFlex Scale-Up Cost & Risk Reduction for >50kW Future Power Demands.”
[26]  NASA, “MegaFlex Solar Array Scale-Up, up to 175kW per Wing.”
[27]  D. Turse, L. Adams, K. A. Medina, K. Steele, and T. Stern, “Design, analysis and testing of a composite beam roll-out array (cobra) for small satellites,” in AIAA Scitech 2019 Forum, 2019, p. 2024.
[28]  SolAero Technologies, “Cobra-Ss & Cobra-1U Composite Beam Rollout Array for SmallSats/CubeSats,” no. August. p. 5000, 2016.
[29]  NASA, “SpaceX CRS-11 Mission Overview,” 2017.
[30]  M. Garcia, “New Solar Arrays to Power NASA’s International Space Station Research,” 2021.
[31]  T. Spröwitz et al., “Membrane deployment technology development at DLR for solar sails and large-scale photovoltaics,” in 2019 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2019, pp. 1–20.
[32]  K. Shimazaki et al., “First flight demonstration of glass-type space solar sheet,” in 2014 IEEE 40th Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC), 2014, pp. 2149–2154.
[33]  Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, “Deep Space Exploration Technology Demonstrator DESTINY+.”
[34]  Airbus, “OneSat, the customers’ choice.”
[35]  L. Bin, “Flexible Solar Panel Wings Help Tianhe Fly in the Space,” 2021.
[36]  M. O’Neill et al., “Stretched Lens Array SquareRigger (SLASR) Technology Maturation,” 2007.
[37]  P. P. Jenkins et al., “Initial results from the TacSat-4 solar cell experiment,” in 2013 IEEE 39th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), 2013, pp. 3108–3111.
[38]  M. J. O’neill, “Stretched fresnel lens solar concentrator for space power, with cords, fibers, or wires strengthening the stretched lens.” Google Patents, Jul. 16, 2019.
[39]  M. Piszczor, M. O’Neill, M. Eskenazi, and H. Brandhorst, “The stretched lens array squarerigger (SLASR) for space power,” in 4th International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference and Exhibit (IECEC), 2006, p. 4137.
[40] M. O’Neill et al., “Recent space PV concentrator advances: More robust, lighter, and easier to track,” in 2015 IEEE 42nd Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC), pp. 1–6, 2015,
[41]  B. R. Spence, S. F. White, and K. Schmid, “Rollable and accordian foldable refractive concentrator space solar array panel,” US 9450131 B1, Sep. 20, 2016.
[42]  S. T. Lai, “Charging of mirror surfaces in space,” J. Geophys. Res. Sp. Phys., vol. 110, no. A1, 2005.
[43]  B. Spence and M. Eskenazi, “The CellSaver concentrator solar array system and qualification program,” in Space Power, 2002, vol. 502, p. 451.
[44] M. Eskenazi et al., “Preliminary test results for the CellSaver concentrator in geosynchronous earth orbit,” in Conference Record of the Thirty-first IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, 2005., 2005, pp. 622–625,
[45] M. Eskenazi, A. Jones, and R. Jain, “Cellsaver qualification testing and contamination analysis,” in 1st International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference (IECEC), p. 6084, 2003,
 [46] Redwire, “Solar Arrays: Flexible Advanced Concentrator Technology (FACT).” Redwire, 2021.
[47]  E. Gaddy et al., “Transformational Solar Array Final Report,” 2017.