New Solar Arrays for Electric Propulsion in Space

NASA’s Space Technology Program is seeking proposals to develop solar array systems to enable space electric propulsion systems of the future.

NASA image of the Deep Space 1 ion engine. Photo credit: NASA

“This call for proposals will result in the development of revolutionary space solar array systems that can be scaled for future human exploration missions to destinations well beyond low Earth orbit,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NASA is seeking proposals from all potential U.S. organizations, including NASA centers and other government agencies, federally funded research and development centers, educational institutions, industry and nonprofit organizations.

The NASA solicitation will cover two acquisition phases and involve a competitive selection process.

Phase I

During Phase I, proposers will design, analyze and test a scalable solar array system capable of generating more than 30 kilowatts of power. The Phase I teams also will identify the most critical technological risks of extending their concept to 250 kW or greater power levels.

Phase II

The intent of Phase II is to prove flight readiness through an in-space demonstration of an advanced, modular and extendable solar array system. After Phase II, follow-on applications will range from high power communications satellites to solar electric propulsion systems.

NASA expects to make up to three awards for Phase I proposals, with total combined costs of approximately $15 million to $20 million, based on availability of funds.

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., will oversee the technical aspects of this technology development effort under Phase I. NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will manage the awarded contracts under both phases.

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