US: SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft for its 11th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station June 1 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A. Dragon will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living aboard the station.
The flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study neutron stars, osteoporosis, solar panels, tools for Earth-observation, and more.
Here are some highlights of research that will be delivered to the orbiting laboratory:
New solar panels test concept for more efficient power source
Solar panels are an efficient way to generate power, but they can be delicate and large when used to power a spacecraft or satellites. They are often tightly stowed for launch and then must be unfolded when the spacecraft reaches orbit. The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), is a solar panel concept that is lighter and stores more compactly for launch than the rigid solar panels currently in use.
ROSA has solar cells on a flexible blanket and a framework that rolls out like a tape measure. The technology for ROSA is one of two new solar panel concepts that were developed by the Solar Electric Propulsion project, sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
The new solar panel concepts are intended to provide power to electric thrusters for use on NASA’s future space vehicles for operations near the Moon and for missions to Mars and beyond. They might also be used to power future satellites in Earth orbit, including more powerful commercial communications satellites.
The demonstration of the deployment of ROSA on the space station is sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory.