Orion spacecraft’s solar array passes first major hurdle

orion solar panel esm
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is one step closer to its planned deployment as a beyond low Earth orbit vessel. Airbus Defence and Space this week announced that it has successfully tested the solar array that will power Orion’s European Service Module (ESM). Built by Airbus for the European Space Agency, the ESM will serve as the primary power and propulsion source for the spacecraft.

The Orion spacecraft is classified as a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that is capable of carrying a crew of four astronauts and supplies beyond the Earth’s orbit. It will be used as a vehicle for Mars exploration, asteroid studies and even as a vehicle to replenish supplies and replace crew at the International Space Station. It comprises two modules — the Orion command module under development by Lockheed Martin, and the Orion Service Module being developed by the ESA and Airbus.

The Service Module will provide critical life-support systems such as water and air storage, electric power, thermal control, and propulsion. It will be powered by a solar array weighing more than 570 pounds (260 kilograms) with four wings that can angle forward and backward like the wings of a bird. Each wing contains three solar panels with 1,242 Gallium Arsenide cells. In total, the 15,000 solar cells will generate up to 11.1kW for the Service Module’s operation.

The addition of this ESA-sourced service module marks the first time NASA has used a European-built system as an important component in the propulsion and power system of an American spacecraft. The solar array passed its first deployment test will flying colors. In the coming months, the module will be subjected to additional testing, including acoustic, vibration, and shock tests, to confirm the spacecraft can withstand the harsh conditions of space. If testing goes smoothly, the ESA hope to deliver its first ESM in early 2017.

Mobile

Want more power, but faster? This new charging tech claims it can deliver

Chunky power bricks and slow charging could be a thing of the past with GaNFast technology from Navitas Semiconductors. By using an alternative to silicon, GaNFast reduces power consumption and boosts output.
Product Review

Cool tech and a great ride make the 2019 RAM 1500 the best light-duty pickup

The Ram isn’t the most powerful, spacious, or affordable of the light-duty, full-size pickup herd, but a modestly equipped version walks all over rivals in terms of ride quality, technology, and cabin comfort.
Outdoors

The best battery packs and power stations for use in the outdoors

If you want to keep your smartphones, tablets, and other devices charged while camping int he backcountry these battery packs and portable power stations are rugged enough to survive while providing plenty of power too.
Computing

Dell teases new XPS laptop with Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake for summer 2019

After teasing a mysterious Ice Lake-powered XPS laptop during Intel's keynote, Dell confirmed that it will announce a new 10th-generation Ice Lake-powered XPS laptop this year. The new XPS notebook could debut as early as summer.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.
Emerging Tech

A.I. finds non-infringing ways to copy drugs pharma spends billions developing

Researchers have demonstrated an artificial intelligence which can find new methods for producing existing pharmaceuticals in a way that doesn’t infringe on existing patents. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Coinstar machines will let you swap cash for Bitcoin at your local grocery store

Coinstar, the company which owns the coin exchange machines found at grocery stores and elsewhere, will soon let you easily buy Bitcoin with your cash money. Here's how it will work.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.
Emerging Tech

World’s biggest fleet of campus delivery robots now transporting student meals

The world’s largest fleet of delivery robots on a university campus is coming to Fairfax County, Virginia’s George Mason University. Here's how the ordering and delivery process plays out.
Deals

Smart luggage does it all with wireless charger, built-in scale, GPS tracking

The SkyValet smart luggage, currently being funded on Kickstarter, offers solutions to many common travel struggles. With SkyValet, you no longer need separate portable chargers, a scale to weigh your bag, a lock, or a tracking device. It's…
Emerging Tech

The CRISPR baby saga continues as China confirms second gene-edited pregnancy

China’s official Xinhua news agency has confirmed that a second woman has become pregnant as part of a controversial experiment to create the world’s first genetically edited babies.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk offers to help dig CERN’s new particle collider tunnel

CERN plans to put the Large Hadron Collider to shame with its proposed much larger Future Circular Collider -- and Elon Musk wants to help. Because, you know, he's not busy enough.
Emerging Tech

Once again, a drone has reportedly caused a shutdown at a major airport

Reported drone sightings near New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport forced flights to be halted early Tuesday evening. One of the drones reportedly came within 30 feet of an aircraft.
Emerging Tech

Scientists find a way to create a renewable supply of cancer-fighting T cells

In a major advance for "off-the-shelf" cancer therapies, UCLA researchers have shown that it's possible to create T cells with important cancer-killing receptors from pluripotent stem cells.