June 16, 2015 – The solar panel array on NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) – R spacecraft has been successfully deployed in a test conducted at Lockheed Martin Corporation in Littleton, Colorado.
The five sections of the solar array resemble a giant black wing. Engineers unfurled the five panels on rails that help simulate deployment in the zero-gravity environment of space. The solar array will generate more than 4,000 watts of power for NOAA’s GOES-R satellite once it is launched in March 2016. The wing is folded up at launch and deploys once in orbit, where it will rotate once a day to continuously point its solar array photovoltaic cells towards the sun.
Photovoltaic cells in the solar array derive electricity from sunlight. Photovoltaics is a method that uses semiconductors to convert solar radiation into direct current electricity. The GOES-R photovoltaics in the solar panel array will power the entire satellite including all of the instruments, computers, data processors, attitude-control sensors and actuators, and telecommunications equipment.
Engineers completed the deployment of the Solar Array Wing Assembly including the Solar Pointing Platform in a cleanroom facility where the GOES-R satellite is being assembled.
The GOES-R satellite is slated to launch in March 2016 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The GOES-R Series is NOAA’s next generation of geostationary Earth-observing systems. The GOES-R program is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between NOAA and NASA. The advanced spacecraft and instrument technology employed by the GOES-R series will improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, increase thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time, improve aviation flight route planning, provide data for long-term climate variability studies, improve solar flare warnings for communications and navigation disruptions, and enhance space weather monitoring.