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NASA Selects JPL Proposal to Build Better Solar Technology for Deep Space Missions

Published on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 | 3:11 pm

A proposal by Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one of four that has been selected by NASA’s Game Changing Development (GCD) program for developing spacecraft solar array technologies that will aid spacecraft in exploring destinations well beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars.

JPL’s proposal, called Solar Array for Low-intensity Low Temperature and High-Radiation Environments, and the other three related proposals were selected from among 13 projects that responded to NASA’s research announcement for solar arrays that will enable future deep space missions to operate in high-radiation and low-temperature environments.

“These awards will greatly enhance our ability to further develop and enhance LILT [low-intensity low temperature] performance by employing new solar cell designs,” said Lanetra Tate, GCD’s program executive under NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
“The ultimate goal of increasing end of life performance and enhanced space power applications will greatly impact how we execute extended missions, especially to the outer planets.”

The other proposals selected came from John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland; the Boeing Company of Huntington Beach, California; and ATK Space Systems of Goleta, California.

The four proposals will each receive a contract worth up to $400,000 from NASA’s GCD program to cover design, testing and analysis of their solar array projects.

After the initial nine months, NASA anticipates a second phase where two of these technologies would be selected to receive up to $1.25 million for development and testing of hardware.

In the third and final phase of the project, one awardee may be asked to continue the development and deliver scalable system hardware. The ultimate goal is to come up with a new generation of solar power technologies that will improve mission performance, increase solar array life, and ultimately allow solar-powered vehicles to explore deeper into space than ever before.

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, manages the GCD program for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the Game Changing Development Program and cross-cutting space technologies of interest to the agency, visit



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