Pico-Satellite Solar Cell Experiment (PSSC) - 09.17.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone
The PSSC is a picosatellite designed to test the space environment by providing a testbed to gather data on new solar cell technologies.
Science Results for Everyone
United States Department of Defense Space Test Program, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
Aerospace Corporation, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Laboratory - Department of Defense (NL-DoD)
ISS Expedition Duration
October 2008 - September 2011
Previous ISS Missions
The first ISS mission for PSSC was Expedition 18.
- The Pico-Satellite Solar Cell experiment (PSSC) main objective is to provide a testbed to gather data on new solar cell technologies.
- PSSC is a small 5 x 5 x 10 inch satellite, and transmits signals to and receives signals from ground stations.
The mission of PSSC is to demonstrate a responsive space flight capability for testing new solar cell technology within the introduction cycle of the new technology. This capability will allow for gathering space flight performance data before the launch of new satellites with the new solar cell technology as the primary power source. Presently, the two U.S. solar cell manufacturers, Spectrolab and Emcore, are starting production of a new generation of High Efficiency Solar Cells on a two to three year cycle. These new cells are committed to fly on major DOD space assets as soon as they are placed in production. Presently, with the accelerated introduction of new solar cell technology into the production the first time that these new technology solar cells actually are flown are on a major satellite program. This has in the past resulted in unexpected interactions with the space environment, which caused either failure of the solar arrays or significant degradation of performance limiting ultimate useful life on orbit.
Results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various solar cell materials when they are exposed to the space environment. Many of the materials may have applications in the design of future spacecraft.
The new advanced materials and components that will be demonstrated on PSSC will improve the performance, increase the useful life, and reduce the costs of future space operations of commercial weather, communication and Earth observation satellites that we all now depend on.
The PSSC picosatellite is ejected from the SSPL5510, a reusable launcher. The launcher is located on the sidewall in the Space Shuttle cargo bay. The launcher will hold the picosatellite, which is 5 x 5 x 10 inch and weighs 7 kg. The crew will use a switch from inside the crew cabin to launch PSSC. The picosatellite contains a transmitter to relay science data to the ground and allow for commanding from ground stations.
The Space Shuttle crew will initiate the launch from inside the crew cabin. The SSPL5510 launcher will release the picosatellite. Once the satellite is in orbit, it will power-on.
PSSC shown here is a picosatellites designed to test solar cells in space. Image courtesy of NASA.
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