September 22, 2006 Our fledgling colony in space is growing in size - the second of four pairs of massive solar arrays and a Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ) have been installed on the International Space Station by the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis. Just to get an idea of how big the panels are, check out the accompanying pic which shows the panels in production and installed. Each of the eight wings consists of a mast assembly and two solar array blankets. Each blanket has 84 panels, of which 82 are populated with solar cells. Each panel contains 200 solar cells. The eight photovoltaic arrays thus accommodate a total of 262,400 solar cells. When fully deployed in space, the active area of the eight wings, each 107 by 38-feet, will encompass an area of 32,528-sq. ft., and will provide power to the ISS for 15 years.The two new solar arrays have been deployed and are generating electricity. When brought on line during the STS-116 mission in December, they will nearly double the power available to the Space Station. A second rotary joint and a third pair of solar arrays will be delivered to ISS on STS-117 in early 2007. The Space Systems ISS solar arrays are the largest deployable space structure ever built and are by far, the most powerful electricity-producing arrays ever put into orbit. When the Station is completed a total of eight flexible, deployable solar array wings will generate the reliable, continuous power for the on-orbit operation of the ISS systems. The eight array wings were designed and built by Lockheed Martin under a US$450 million contract from the Boeing-Rocketdyne Division for delivery to Boeing and NASA.
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