Japan Aerospace Exploration Looks to CIGS for Deep Space

December 06, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. announces that the Company was selected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as part of their next round of evaluations for providing solar technology for an upcoming mission to Jupiter, as well as to address additional missions. This decision followed an earlier round of investigation with promising results, during which the Company's flexible, monolithically integrated copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) solar module was subjected to environmental extremes, and continued to operate well.

During the first phase of JAXA's evaluation, Ascent's PV was successfully tested below -146 degrees C (-231 degrees F) and up to +190 degrees C (+374 degrees F), and to only 4% of the sunlight generally received in earth's orbit. In addition, JAXA has also subjected Ascent's PV to radiation and mechanical testing.

"JAXA's Jovian mission is a testament to the advancements being made in orbit, both in terms of its objectives, as well as the extremes in which the vehicle is required to operate," stated Dr. Joseph Armstrong, Chief Technology Officer and founder of Ascent Solar. "Missions of this type traditionally use fragile crystalline solar cells that require additional structure for protection. Our lightweight, flexible technology can take advantage of novel array construction that provide higher performance in a more economical package. JAXA has decided to investigate lower-cost flexible thin-film solar technology in conjunction with a solar sail concept that was first demonstrated on their IKAROS project in 2010. Our PV will be used in conjunction with a solar sail design that would provide both propulsion, as well as lightweight electrical power for the mission."

"We are very honored to be selected to work with JAXA in anticipation of the upcoming mission," said Victor Lee, President and CEO of Ascent Solar. "Interest from JAXA in our unique flexible CIGS PV product for high-performance aerospace applications is encouraging, as we believe it will increase awareness of what Ascent's PV has to offer in this challenging aerospace market."

JAXA intends to leverage their existing solar sail technology with lightweight solar components to combine both solar propulsion and solar power generation. As stated by the JAXA Solar Power Sail Team, "We want to develop innovative spacecraft systems with lightweight PV and pave the way for economical high-performance deep space missions."