Ascent’s Flexible Solar Modules Used in Upcoming NASA Mission

Person holding Ascent's flexible solar PV panel

(Credit: Ascent Solar Technologies)

by | Feb 27, 2024

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Ascent Solar Technologies said that its flexible, thin-layer solar module products will be used to power NASA’s upcoming small spacecraft mission.

Ascent Solar’s solar modules will provide low-cost power for NASA’s Lightweight Integrated Solar Array and AnTenna (LISA-T) mission, which will evaluate the capabilities of new, small spacecraft put into orbit. The demonstration missions aim to evaluate the infusion of new technologies into NASA’s future missions, including improvements to using solar energy in space.

The LISA-T solar arrays are low mass and low stowed volume, and they are reportedly able to produce three times more power than other photovoltaic systems.

“Selection for this upcoming space mission is the culmination of years of Ascent’s work with NASA to optimize the PV modules that enabled LISA-T’s ambitious spacecraft mass and power budgets to close,” said Paul Warley, CEO of Ascent Solar Technologies. “This mission will demonstrate that previously unachievable spacecraft requirements can in fact be met.”

Ascent’s PV products have been previously used on the International Space Station, and NASA’s MISSE-X experiment previously proved that the company’s CIGS product, a photovoltaic material made of layers of copper, indium, gallium, and selenide, successfully operates in a space environment.

Ascent’s Thin-Film PV Panels Accommodate Non-Traditional Solar Applications

While most solar panels are made of heavy, rigid silicon-based modules, Ascent Solar’s products may gather solar energy for unique technologies in addition to space applications, such as drones or portable power systems.

Another additional application for Ascent’s products is in agrivoltaics, or the practice of using land for both solar energy generation and agricultural use. This growing industry may help avoid land-use conflict as both agriculture and solar development require large expanses of land. Ascent said its technology accommodates for maximum use of agricultural land without sacrificing the ability to use crucial farming equipment.

The company’s development of space solar applications also continues to evolve — at the end of last year, Ascent announced the upcoming release of its new Titan line, which will achieve even greater energy output efficiency.

“The modules developed for LISA-T informed the design of Ascent’s Titan line of space products, facilitating further maximization of power generation to the extent that spacecraft can produce kilowatts per kilogram of array in the space environment with minimal degradation over the life of the mission,” said Warley.

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