Orbital Sciences' Cygnus International Space Station resupply spacecraft is to use solar cells from New Mexico company Emcore.

The solar cell manufacturer has been awarded a contract by Orbital's solar array supplier Dutch Space, located in the Netherlands. Emcore's ZTJ solar cells will be supplied, for which the company claims a beginning-of-life sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency of 30%. The cells will be produced at Emcore's facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Emcore chief operating officer Christopher Larocca says: "This is a reformation of the team [including Dutch Space] that successfully collaborated on NASA's Dawn mission, which is currently powering the spacecraft on its voyage to the asteroid belt. This award paves the way for more partnerships with Dutch Space."

Under its NASA ISS resupply contract, Orbital will carry out eight pressurised cargo missions with its Cygnus spacecraft, beginning in early 2011 and ending in 2015. Cygnus will be launched by Orbital's Taurus II rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Source: Flight International