Press Release 95-13
[Multimedia information about Lewis' Solar Dynamics work is available online.]
Lori J. Rachul
LEWIS SUCCESSFULLY TESTS FIRST COMPLETE SOLAR
DYNAMIC SPACE POWER SYSTEM
CLEVELAND, OH -- NASA Lewis Research Center's Solar
Dynamic Ground Test Demonstration Project concluded the first
successful test of a complete solar dynamic power system that may one
day have applications in space stations, communications and Earth-
observing satellites, and electric propulsion.
On Feb. 17, 1995, this fully-integrated solar dynamic power system
produced the designed 2kWe of power in Lewis' large space simulation
Lewis has been collaborating with industry in space power systems to
design, fabricate and test a solar dynamic power system that is capable
of storing energy to ensure continuous operation. Researchers have
found that solar dynamic power with thermal energy storage can provide
significant savings in life cycle costs and launch mass when compared to
conventional photovoltaic power systems with battery storage for
providing continuous electric power for near-Earth orbits. These life
cycle cost savings make solar dynamics more attractive for future
applications, such as the International Space Station Alpha.
"The Ground Test Demonstration is the first known solar dynamic system
test conducted in a relevant environment with simulated sun," explained
Richard Shaltens, manager of the Solar Dynamic Ground Test
Demonstration Project. "In our collaborative efforts with industry we've
demonstrated solar dynamic technologies in a system context while
keeping the project ahead of schedule and within budget."
During testing of the power system, a large reflective surface, known as
a concentrator, focuses simulated sunlight onto a receiver to heat the
working gas, which is a helium-xenon mixture. The resulting energy
powers a turboalternatorcompressor (TAC) providing electric power for
various orbit operations. Radiators then release waste heat from the
TAC into space.
A salt storage material contained in the receiver captures the Sun's
energy and provides the stored energy to the system throughout the
sun/shade orbit. The storage material absorbs and returns the energy by
melting and freezing, thereby providing the heat at a constant
temperature throughout the complete orbit.
Working in partnership with industry, Lewis is responsible for the overall
project management of the solar dynamic space power system. The
industry team led by AlliedSignal Aerospace, Tempe, Ariz., includes
Harris Corporation, Melbourne, Fla.; AlliedSignal Aerospace, Torrance,
Calif.; LORAL Vought Systems, Dallas, Texas; Rockwell International
Company, Rocketdyne Division, Canoga Park, Calif.; Aerospace Design
& Development, Niwot, Colo.; and Solar Kinetics Incorporated, Dallas,
Texas, who initially received funding for this project through the NASA
Small Business Innovation Research Program.
"This testing has yielded an improved understanding of integrated solar
dynamic system operation and performance and is providing valuable
data to the joint U.S./Russian Solar Dynamic Flight System, which Lewis
is currently managing," Shaltens added.
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