Orion
Science & Exploration

Power

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Orion

The 7 m-long solar wings on the European Service Module feature the distinctive X-wing configuration that was also used in the module’s predecessor, the Automated Transfer Vehicle. 

ATV-4 lit by the Sun as it approaches Space Station
ATV-4 lit by the Sun as it approaches Space Station

Each of the four wings are made of three panels that provide enough electricity to power two typical European households, providing 120 V for the computers, experiments and other hardware.

The solar array turns on two axes to remain aligned with the Sun for maximum power. The solar cells are provided by US company Emcore and shipped to the Netherlands for assembly into the panels. They will provide more than double the power of the solar array of the Automated Transfer Vehicle despite being similar in size.

Technical details:

  • Electrical power (120 V) for Orion provided by four wings
  • Wing length: 7375 mm, made of three panels 2130 x 1920 mm
  • Total power output 11.2 kW
  • Solar cells provided by the US partner Emcore using gallium arsenide triple-junction technology
  • The Solar Array orientation is controlled by the two-axis Solar Array Drive Mechanism (SADM). The Sun-tracking mechanism can swivel between –35° and +25° on the inner axis, while the outer axis can rotate fully: 0° to +360°
  • Power is transferred through the two-axis rotating joints
  • The solar arrays are controlled through the Solar Array Drive Electronics (SADE)
  • The Power Conditioning and Distribution Unit (PCDU) regulates the power and routes electricity to equipment
  • All units are connected via an Onboard Data Network (ODN) to the Crew Module and its adapter
  • The vehicle control and management software is in the Crew Module computers
  • The Onboard Data Network is a three-plane Time-Triggered Gigabit Ethernet (TTGbE)

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