PowerFilm Solar Inc

Space Yacht

Project IKAROS solar powered space yacht on course to Venus

The Challenge:

Using solar radiation as propulsion for interplanetary travel has been the subject of science fiction for 100 years. Project IKAROS made this a reality, flying radiation probes to Venus and beyond using a solar sail. For propulsion they used a gigantic, extremely lightweight sail which used radiation pressure from the sun to drive the spacecraft to Venus. They needed solar modules to power the instrumentation over the long voyage. The modules had to be extremely light weight, durable, and flexible enough to withstand the stowage and deployment of the solar sail. 


The Approach:

PowerFilm worked with the creators of this solar yacht to design modules to mount on their sail. We used a special 25µ thick substrate and a cell configuration which gave appropriate voltage for their power bus minimizing wiring harness weight.  These combined with other design features to create a module putting out over 1200 W per kilogram. The flight was a success with instruments working through the trip to Venus and for extended set of experiments beyond.


The Solution:

PowerFilm's R&D team can design to even the most stringent requirements, and our amorphous silicon material provides some of the highest weight-to-power ratio available from any photovoltaic technology.


Interested in a custom solution?

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