Press Release 94-09
February 10, 1994
Embargoed until 4 p.m.
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Mary Ann Peto
Lewis Research Center
Lewis to Lead Efforts on Joint U.S./Russia Solar Dynamic test Flight
CLEVELAND, OH -- NASA today announced the Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, has been given responsibility for the planning and early technology development work that will lead to the first demonstration of a joint U.S.-Russian Solar Dynamic Power System aboard the Mir space station in 1997.
Lewis is NASA's Center of Excellence for space power systems. Working in partnership with industry, Lewis is performing specific in-line and support tasks for development of the photovoltaic power modules and electrical power distribution system for the international space station.
In addition to its work on the international space station, Lewis is playing a key role in supporting the Agency in the areas of developing joint U.S./Russian cooperative efforts.
Lewis' expertise in space power systems is a critical part of the integrated product team to provide space station derived solar array modules to the Russians for use on the Mir space station and for developing the U.S./Russian joint solar arrays on the Russian portion of the international space station.
The international space station will receive most of its electrical power from photovoltaic arrays. Two 10,000 watt solar dynamic units are planned as part of final configuration of the orbiting research complex.
The solar dynamics system is much different from the photo-voltaic system now used to power spacecraft. Solar dynamic converts the Sun's rays into heat for the production of power. Heat is collected in a receiver which is located near the focal point of the parabolic mirror. Power is then generated the same way as a power station on Earth -- by heating a fluid which in turn rotates a turbine and generator.
Energy is stored as heat in the solar dynamic receiver so that the system can continue generating power when the space station is in the dark portion of each orbit. This is more efficient than the use of batteries with a photovoltaic system. During the Sun portion of each orbit around the Earth, heat is absorbed by melting a salt storage media in the receiver. On the dark side of each orbit, the salt freezes and gives up its heat to the working fluid of the engine, ensuring continuous operations.
Government and industry are working together to develop space power systems for today's spacecraft as well as developing new technologies that will power future spacecraft. It is expected that industry will be able to transfer some of these advanced technologies into power systems used here on Earth.
Today's announcement authorizes Lewis to begin the planning and early technology work on a subscale version of the solar dynamic system to be jointly developed by NASA and the Russian Space Agency. This test unit will fly on the Russian Mir space station in 1997.
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