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Press Release 96-28

Press Release 96-28

Lori J. Rachul
NASA Lewis Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-8806)

NASA Lewis Research Center Managed MIR Cooperative Solar Array is Deployed

CLEVELAND, OH -- On May 25 cosmonauts on board the Russian Space Station Mir deployed a NASA Lewis Research Center managed U.S./Russian solar array that will increase the space station's power capability, extend its lifetime and support Mir-based U.S. experiments.

The solar array, known as the Mir Cooperative Solar Array (MCSA), was delivered to Mir during the second Shuttle/Mir docking mission in November 1995.

Cosmonauts Yuri Onufrienko and Yuri Usachev, with U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid looking on from inside, hand-cranked the deployment mechanism that unstacked the new solar array, similar to the stretching of an accordion. In preparation for the deployment, Onufrienko and Usachev performed an Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) on May 20 in which they moved the MCSA from the docking module, where it had been stowed since November 1995, to the Kvant-1 module.

"The success of this project is attributed to the excellent working relationship built between the U.S/Russian team members. My participation in the deployment of the solar array at the Russian Control Center in Kaliningrad is something I will value for many years," said Michael Skor, NASA Lewis MCSA project manager.

The Mir Cooperative Solar Array has a solar panel surface area of 42 square meters, consisting of 84 panel modules, each of which contains 80 silicon solar cells. Each cell produces approximately one watt of power when exposed to the Sun. The deployed array will provide six kilowatts of power, helping to boost Mir's energy production facilities and enabling joint U.S./Russian microgravity and life-science research.

The Mir Cooperative Solar Array team is structured as an Integrated Product Team (IPT) led by NASA's Lewis Research Center and consisting of Rockwell International's Rocketdyne Division, Canoga Park, CA; Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA; and Rocket Space Corporation-Energia, Kaliningrad. The IPT concept, which is being incorporated throughout the international Space Station program, provides necessary communications, flexibility and endorsement of all team members, and produces flight hardware in less time at a lower cost. The Cooperative Solar Array project followed an aggressive timeline--less than two years from inception to deployment of the jointly produced array.

In addition to managing the program, NASA Lewis provided technical expertise and analysis during development, qualification and acceptance testing of the MCSA. One of the development tests was performed in a special facility at NASA Lewis in which the integrated U.S. solar panels and Russian support structure were exposed to the temperature extremes found in space. The test results helped engineers improve the interface between the U.S. and Russian hardware, and indicated that the jointly produced array would be able to survive more than four years in space.

NASA Lewis engineers also are refining a state-of-the-art electrical performance computer model of the MCSA's electrical output as it flies on Mir. Data on the MCSA's performance will be recorded by the Russians and sent to NASA Lewis where it will be compared to computer predictions. This data will help the U.S. predict performance of the international Space Station's solar arrays, which will consist of the same U.S.-made silicon solar cells as the MCSA.

Note: Additional information on NASA Lewis' involvement in the MCSA program can be found on the Internet:

Photos are available upon request.

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