Full-scale system tests for a satellite high-power generation system (HPGS) is planned under a $13 million programme of work funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The system is for spacecraft that conduct high-bandwidth communications, radar, satellite transfer and servicing missions and is being developed under DARPA's Fast Access Spacecraft Testbed (Fast) programme. Its goal is to perform ground demonstrations of a 20kW generation system that is scalable to output up to 80kW. It could also power an electric propulsion system enabling a spacecraft deployed to low Earth orbit to reach its final altitude.

The $13 million is for a second phase to include designing, fabricating and integrating test articles for the solar concentration, power conversion, heat rejection, structure and deployment and Sun pointing and tracking subsystems and performing a series of component-level evaluations and running two full-scale system tests.

The first phase saw a preliminary design developed for the high-power generation system, which uses solar power, and its test programme defined. Partners included Boeing, DR Technologies, Northrop Grumman Astro Aerospace, Texas A&M University, Emcore and Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab.

Source: Flight International