The aging International Space Station has outlived its planned 15-year lifespan. As a result, the original solar panel arrays are show signs of degradation and will be supplemented by six new solar arrays.

These six new solar arrays have been produced by Boeing, a regular contractor for NASA. The six arrays are a larger version of the Roll Our Solar Array demonstrated on the International Space Station back in 2017. They will be deployed in front of six of the existing eight pairs of solar arrays to make use of the existing sun tracking and power distribution systems.

While these solar arrays will block and reduce the power output of the original arrays, the new arrays will actually bring the output of the station up to 215 kW, from its current output of 160 kW. This is because of the improved solar cells that these supplementary arrays have and shows how much the old cells have degraded over the years.

ROSA Deployment

Rollout of the array begins at 2:05

SpaceX CRS-22 Launch

These solar arrays will be sent to the station on top of a Falcon 9 rocket for SpaceX’s CRS-22 mission. They were installed into the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon this week and will be unloaded using the Canadarm. Currently, the launch is scheduled for June 3rd from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In addition to the solar panels, the Dragon Capsule will carry a variety of supplies and science experiments. This to further our understanding of microgravity on life.

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