Rocket Labs to Provide Solar Cells for NASA’s GLIDE 2025 Mission –

Manufacturer of new generation launchers rocket lab (NASDAQ: RKLB) will manufacture the solar array (SAP) to power NASA’s Global Lyman-alpha Imagers of the Dynamic Exosphere (GLIDE) mission that will study the area where Earth’s atmosphere meets space. Spacecraft for GLIDE is built by an innovator in space and defense technology Aeronautical balloon and is expected to launch in 2025.

SAP will use technology from newly acquired Rocket Lab subsidiary GroundAero, a satellite solar panel supplier in Albuquerque, New Mexico. SolAero technologies already power more than 1,000 satellites and have participated in at least 30 missions with NASA over the past 20 years, including the James Webb Space Telescope and the flower-shaped solar panel that powers NASA InSight Martian Lander.

For the upcoming GLIDE spacecraft, Rocket Lab will provide SolAero’s latest space solar cell technology, the Z4J Quad Junction Solar Cell, designed specifically for space applications. These high-efficiency, radiation-hardened solar cells laid on carbon composite cladding panels are perfectly suited for the space.

NASA’s GLIDE will image ultraviolet emissions from Earth’s vast outer atmosphere. Image courtesy of University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

The GLIDE spacecraft will launch with another Rocket Lab-powered spacecraft, also built by Ball Aerospace, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space weather monitoring on Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1). SWFO-L1 is a heliophysical mission that will collect solar wind data and coronal imagery to support NOAA’s operational requirements for monitoring and forecasting solar storm activity.

“Rocket Lab has become the go-to supplier of space-based solar power products and space systems across the space industry, including for ambitious heliophysical missions like GLIDE,” said Founder and CEO Peter Beck.

Illustration of SolAero showing how many satellites are powered by its solar technology.

SolAero has powered over 1,000 satellites. Image courtesy of SolAero by Rocket Lab.

Rocket Lab became one of the leading space systems companies in the nascent private sector. It aims to provide end-to-end mission services for rapid, frequent and reliable access to space, including comprehensive satellite build and launch solutions.

In the 3D printing industry, Rocket Lab is known for its almost entirely 3D printed rocket engine, the Rutherford, which relies on an electric motor rather than gas and includes propeller valves, injectors, pumps and engine chambers that are all 3D printed with electrons. beam fusion technology. Although this engine powered the company’s small Electron satellite launcher, Rocket Lab focused on developing the eight-ton reusable payload class. Neutron rocket, which also uses 3D printing for the production of parts.

Since its founding in 2006, the pioneering rocket manufacturer has grown into a multinational company with a rich history of developing propulsion systems and launching vehicles for numerous government and commercial customers.

After becoming the first private company to reach space from the Southern Hemisphere, Rocket Lab has delivered more than 105 satellites into orbit for more than 20 public and private sector organizations and completed 21 missions for a wide range of customers, including government agencies like Nasa and Advanced Defense Projects Agency (DARPA), branches of the military like the United States Air Forceand commercial enterprises, such as Capella area. However, the addition of SolAero to its portfolio of space offerings has opened new doors for the company.

Now that Ball Aerospace has tapped SolAero to build GLIDE’s SAP, the company has another opportunity to prove that its space technology is one of the key forces in the space solar market, which is expected to reach nearly a billion dollars by 2030.

Under the direction of Principal Investigator Lara Waldrop, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, GLIDE will study variability in Earth’s outermost atmospheric layer, known as the exosphere. Budgeted at $75 million, the mission will make unprecedented measurements of far-ultraviolet light emitted by hydrogen atoms in the exosphere, extending more than 100,000 miles above Earth’s surface. Earth, about halfway to the moon. This emission serves as a tracer of exospheric density, knowledge of which is necessary to advance understanding of the physics of the upper atmosphere, particularly as it relates to Earth’s recovery from solar-induced disturbances known as of space weather.

Illustration showing the layers and their distance from the Earth.

NASA’s GLIDE will study the exosphere, the outermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere. The exosphere is seen here in this illustration which shows the layers and their distance from Earth. Image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith.

Historically, only a few observations of the Earth’s exosphere have been made at large enough distances to capture its structure and behavior on a global scale. GLIDE would fill this long-standing measurement gap by acquiring wide-field images of Earth’s global exospheric emission from its orbital angle. On Earth, the data collected by GLIDE will provide researchers with better ways to predict and ultimately mitigate how space weather can disrupt modern technologies, such as satellite electronics, radio communications, power distribution electricity and even air travel.

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