AFRL and Northrop Grumman test key hardware for space-based solar power experiment

The Air Pressure Analysis Laboratory is funding a $100 million experiment to gather solar energy in outer area to be used on Earth

WASHINGTON —  A satellite tv for pc photo voltaic panel designed by Northrop Grumman to reap vitality in area to be beamed again to Earth carried out efficiently in lab assessments, clearing the way in which for the know-how to be launched to orbit in a army experiment deliberate for 2025.

The demonstration — performed lately at a Northrop Grumman facility in Linthicum, Maryland — was in assist of an experiment funded by the Air Pressure Analysis Laboratory to gather solar energy in outer area to be used on Earth. 

AFRL stated Dec. 21 that the “sandwich tile” designed by Northrop Grumman for this experiment efficiently transformed photo voltaic vitality to radio frequency energy, “a elementary step required to pave the way in which for a large-scale solar energy assortment system in area.” To make this work, receiving antennas on Earth could be used to remodel the RF vitality into usable energy.

Area-based solar energy is a key focus of AFRL, which awarded Northrop Grumman a $100 million contract in 2018 to develop the payload for an indication referred to as Arachne. The sandwich tile is a key payload element.

Arachne is one in every of a collection of flight experiments deliberate by AFRL below the Photo voltaic Energy Incremental Demonstrations and Analysis (SSPIDR) mission.

Jay Patel, vp of Northrop Grumman’s distant sensing packages, stated the profitable conversion of daylight into RF vitality is a “important step ahead in delivering the know-how constructing blocks to realize the Arachne mission.”

The sandwich tile consists of two layers: a panel of photovoltaic cells accumulate photo voltaic vitality and supply energy to the second layer, which is populated with elements that allow solar-to-RF conversion and beamforming.

The bottom demonstration used a photo voltaic simulator to light up the photovoltaic facet of the tile and carry out the solar-to-RF conversion course of. 

“It’s essential we exhibit this know-how on-orbit as quickly as attainable to satisfy our nation’s wants,” stated Kyle Gleichmann, Arachne’s chief engineer. 

The testing of the person tile for the Arachne experiment gives a constructing block for a payload that may have a sq. meter panel of tiles. Arachne is projected to launch in 2025.

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