NASA will award a $25 million contract to a company to develop and produce a new solar cell that will be used to build solar panels on the International Space Station, according to the agency.
The contract is part of NASA’s efforts to develop a new, lightweight solar cell, the agency announced Monday.
The new cell will use a new type of material that is less susceptible to degradation, said Jim Green, a senior vice president at NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Office.NASA will award the contract for development and manufacturing of the new solar cells to the Solar Cell Technologies Corporation, which Green said is based in Seattle.
The company is expected to begin work on the first batch of solar cell components in 2019, he said.
The first batch is expected in 2020.NASA plans to use the new material to build a new layer of solar panels, which will be attached to the inside of a spacecraft module.
That module will contain the solar panels.
NASA plans to attach the new cells to all the spacecraft modules that the agency sends into orbit.
The agency is developing a solar panel that can be used for the station, NASA said.NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Federation is expected this week to award the first-of-its-kind contract to Solar Cell Technology Corporation for a solar cell for the International Spaceport in Houston.
The contract will help NASA meet the goal of launching commercial satellites on a single-satellite launch system.
NASA’s first commercial satellite, SES-8, launched atop a Soyuz rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida in February.
NASA also has a planned rocket for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, but that is under development.