ISS Needs More Solar Panels, Boeing Jumps In to Help

ISS getting more solar panels 1 photo
Photo: Boeing
It was not that long ago that the fate of the International Space Station (ISS) hung in the balance, as its operators were scrambling to find funding to keep it running. In the short term, that problem has been solved, and the ISS is now looking to expand.
And by expansion we don’t mean an increase in housing capabilities, but an increase in the amount of power supply generated.

As most of you already know, the station generates its electricity by means of solar arrays. At the moment there are eight of them, mounted on the station’s backbone (called truss), each 112 feet long by 39 feet wide.

Starting later this year, Boeing will increase that capacity significantly, after it announced it would deliver six new arrays to the ISS. The new hardware, sized 63 by 20 feet. is to generate 120 kilowatts of electricity, increasing the initial capacity of the existing rig by up to 30 percent.

“When it comes to game-changing research and technological development, the space station is currently hitting its full stride,” said in a statement John Mulholland, ISS vice president and program manager for Boeing.

“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. 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.”

The space station is currently the longest-continuously-operated human-made structure in space. The first component was placed up there in 1998, and estimates are it could be kept in operation well into the 2030s, if properly maintained.

Last November, the station celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first humans to arrive there. Since that time, 241 people from 19 countries were housed by the station.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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