Spectrolab Solar Cells to Power Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft

Spectrolab employees assemble compound semi-based multi-junction solar cells on panel to power Boeing's Starliner spacecraft.

As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, NASA reported that solar energy will power Boeings CST-100 Starliner for crew missions to and from the International Space Station. Just like the space station and satellites, energy from the sun is a reliable and efficient (especially in terms of weight) power source.

The solar cells on the Starliner will have three distinct layers to capture different portions of the energy spectrum. Boeing’s solar subsidiary Spectrolab will fabricate the cells that will convert solar energy into more than 2,900 watts of usable electricity that will allow astronauts to complete their journey to the orbiting laboratory. The system also will also produce enough electricity to run the Starliner’s systems while it is docked to the station for about six months at a time.

The Starliner’s solar cells will be incorporated into its micro-meteoroid debris shield located at the bottom of the spacecraft’s service module. Sylmar, California- based Spectrolab is supplying the more than 3,500 of it super-efficient compound semi-based, multi-junction solar cells for each spacecraft.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to soon take astronauts to and from the space station. Each company is constructing their unique systems to meet the NASA mission and safety requirements. The goal of the Commercial Crew Program is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective transport to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit destinations.