The European Space Agency (ESA) has moved on to the next stage of testing the Orion spacecraft. This spacecraft will be launched to the Moon on a NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the Artemis mission in late 2022. Engineers have tested the deployment of massive “wings” – Orion solar panels that will provide the spacecraft with electricity. In a video posted by ESA, the mission team deploys solar panels, the power of which is sufficient to power two residential buildings.
Solar panels are literally the “life” of the Orion spacecraft. In total, the spacecraft will have four large solar wings, each of which will consist of three panels. The panel closest to the capsule has a length of seven meters, while the second and third panels total 17 meters. Interestingly, the engineers designed the middle panel in such a way that it can turn after the Sun to get maximum electricity.
“The solar wings from Airbus are designed to fold in the direction of movement away from the exhaust gases when the engine is running at maximum power, so as not to melt them from high temperatures. But they can also fold back to provide a more streamlined profile,” the ESA said in a statement.
The panels will be used to power all the equipment inside the module in the Artemis unmanned mission. On board the spacecraft there will be everything necessary for the life support of the crew so that they can safely get to the Moon, land on its surface and return to Earth.
“All these cells on the panel should produce a total of 11.2 kW of peak power. This is enough to power more than 50 desktop computers or to charge more than 1,000 smartphones,” the agency said.
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