Alphasat solar array installation

Power dressing

26 June 2013

Expansive solar arrays for Europe’s Alphasat, the most sophisticated commercial telecommunications satellite ever built.

The 7 m long, 3 m wide satellite is equipped with 40 m of solar wings when fully unfurled – seen here during fitting to the satellite on 4 June – supplying 12 kilowatts of power for its advanced communication payload, enough to supply an average European street of 20 houses.

Developed by Azur Space in Germany with ESA backing, the arrays are based on 30%-efficient third-generation ‘3G’ solar cells. This triple-junction gallium arsenide design of 30 separate film layers is optimised to absorb different segments of the Sun’s overall spectrum to maximise power yield.

Manufactured in Astrium Toulouse, Alphasat is now in French Guiana for launch on Ariane 5 at the end of July.

The result of a public–private partnership between ESA and UK telecommunications provider Inmarsat, Alphasat, besides serving as a working comsat, is also hosting a quartet of Technology Development Packages to give promising technologies early flight tests.

These packages comprise a laser communication terminal for high-bandwidth intersatellite links, an experiment to explore use of new frequency bands, an advanced startracker for satellite control, and a space radiation monitor.

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