Solar Modules From US Manufacturer Picked For Space Mission

Ascent Solar’s Flexible CIGS Solar Panels On Board NASA’s Next Mission—LISA-T (PTD-4)

Solar Modules From US Manufacturer Picked For Space Mission

Flexible, CIGS modules from Ascent Solar will be part of NASA’s space mission. (Illustrative Photo; Photo Credit: laremenko Sergii/

  • Ascent Solar has been selected to supply its CIGS panels for the upcoming NASA mission 
  • Its flexible panels will be used for the 4th PTD of NASA called LISA-T that aims to explore the capability of deploying large-area arrays on small spacecraft 
  • Ascent says the solar arrays for this mission guided the design of its Titan line of space products that led to 17.55% efficiency 

Ascent Solar Technologies will provide its copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) flexible, featherweight solar modules for the upcoming LISA-T (PTD-4) space mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in summer this year. 

NASA is set to launch the 4th Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator (PTD) under its Lightweight Integrated Solar Array and AnTenna (LISA-T) mission to demonstrate the capability to deploy large-area arrays on lightweight, low-cost and small spacecraft. 

It is led by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville. 

Ascent says the LISA-T (PTD-4) solar arrays are lower mass and stowed volume. These can produce 3 times more power than alternative PV solutions traded within the system envelope. 

According to an earlier NASA study, Though several larger scale arrays are in development, sub-kilowatt thin-film arrays remain scarce. Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC) Lightweight Integrated Solar Array and Transceiver (LISA-T) is addressing this, deploying large-area thin film arrays from a reduced volume and mass envelope – greatly enhancing power generation and communications capabilities in small spacecraft.” 

While Ascent reveals no specific capacity of its solar modules for the mission, it says PTD-4’s deployable solar arrays are designed to scale larger than the mission’s CubeSat form factor with options capable of generating kilowatts of power to small spacecraft. 

“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,” says CEO of Ascent, Paul Warley.  

Ascent declared 17.55% efficiency for its Titan modules in November 2023. Especially designed for space, these have a specific power of 2100 W/kg. These are approximately 1 sq. ft. in size and 10 grams in weight with a target output of 17 W. The company is planning commercial deliveries of the Titan modules from Q1/2024. 

“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,” added Warley. 

Ascent’s CIGS panels have previously been evaluated on the International Space Station (ISS). These were tested on NASA’s Materials International Space Station Experiment-X (MISSE-X) mission, a technology demonstration project to ascertain robotic mounting and servicing of the ISS’ exterior. 

The US manufacturer says the MISSE-X experiment validated the resilience of its CIGS material, both bare and encapsulated, for the space environment. 

Now, the company has provided its modules with lower-cost and lighter-weight laminates for the upcoming MISSE payload that will fly on SpaceX’s 30th Commercial Resupply Mission to the space station in March 2024. 

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Senior News Editor: Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews. --Email : [email protected] --

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