December 12, 2016 – Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. was selected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as part of the agency’s next round of evaluations for providing solar technology for an upcoming mission to Jupiter, as well as to address additional missions.
The decision followed an earlier round of investigation with promising results, during which Ascent’s flexible, monolithically integrated copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) solar module was subjected to environmental extremes, and continued to operate well. Ascent’s PV was successfully tested below -146°C (-231°F) and up to +190°C (+374 °F), and to only 4% of the sunlight generally received in earth’s orbit. JAXA also subjected Ascent’s PV to radiation and mechanical testing.
“JAXA’s Jovian mission is a testament to the advancements being made in orbit, both in terms of its objectives, as well as the extremes in which the vehicle is required to operate,” said Dr. Joseph Armstrong, Chief Technology Officer and founder of Ascent Solar. “Missions of this type traditionally use fragile crystalline solar cells that require additional structure for protection. Our lightweight, flexible technology can take advantage of novel array construction that provide higher performance in a more economical package.”
“JAXA has decided to investigate lower-cost flexible thin-film solar technology in conjunction with a solar sail concept that was first demonstrated on their IKAROS project in 2010,” Armstrong added. “Our PV will be used in conjunction with a solar sail design that would provide both propulsion, as well as lightweight electrical power for the mission.”
A link to the webpage describing the IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun) mission can be found here:
“We are very honored to be selected to work with JAXA in anticipation of the upcoming mission,” said Victor Lee, President and CEO of Ascent Solar. “Interest from JAXA in our unique flexible CIGS PV product for high-performance aerospace applications is encouraging, as we believe it will increase awareness of what Ascent’s PV has to offer in this challenging aerospace market.”
JAXA intends to leverage their existing solar sail technology with lightweight solar components to combine both solar propulsion and solar power generation for economical high-performance deep space missions.
Ascent Solar is headquartered in Thornton, Colorado.