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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Solar Panels Travel to the Space Station

Spectrolab, the Boeing Co.

subsidiary in Sylmar, provided solar cells for a pair of arrays installed last month on the International Space Station.

The San Fernando Valley manufacturer supplied the original solar cells for the space station. The new ones are the start of a series of six solar arrays to be installed in the next two years.

The six new 63-by-20-foot arrays will together produce more than 120 kilowatts of electricity from the sun’s energy, Boeing said in a release from January when its contract modification was announced.

The panels will provide ISS with electricity to sustain its systems and equipment, plus augment the electricity available to continue a wide variety of public and private experiments and research in the station’s microgravity environment, the company added.

Spectrolab produced the XTJ Prime solar cells, which will be some of the most powerful ever launched into space. They are the same solar cells that power Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in flight and while docked to the ISS, Boeing said.

John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for the space station at Boeing, said that when it comes to game-changing research and technological development, the station is hitting full stride.

“These arrays, along with other recent upgrades to the station’s power system and data-transfer speed, will ensure that ISS remains an incubator and business model in the commercial space ecosystem for the coming decades,” Mulholland said in a statement from the January release. “Access to this unique lab will continue to pay off as researchers study the challenges of future deep-space exploration and make discoveries that improve life on Earth.” 

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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