Thales Alenia Space recently completed the assembly and testing of an engineering model of the solar array for our Space INSPIRE product line. Featuring ground-breaking technology, this full-scale model will undergo vibration tests in the days ahead. The flexible solar array, aptly named SolarFlex, is a major first for Europe. SolarFlex has been developed by Thales Alenia Space and the Czech BSTG consortium, as part of Novacom II, the ARTES Partnership Project for the development of Space Inspire.
Based on patented Thales Alenia Space technology, the SolarFlex solar array wraps around a rail just like an automatic roller blind. The novel concept relies on latest-generation photovoltaic cells mounted on a flexible substrate. SolarFlex offers high power density, while taking up four to five times less space than before.
Space INSPIRE is itself a compact solution, built on a mid-sized platform, with the medium-term aim being to accommodate two such satellites under a launcher’s fairing. Its solar arrays must be equally compact. Automated photovoltaic assembly (PVA) of solar cells will be performed at Thales Alenia Space’s showcase Industry 4.0 facility in Hasselt, Belgium, with support from Belgian BELSPO.
The first SolarFlex flight model will fly on the ASTRA-1Q geostationary communications satellite ordered by Luxembourg operator SES in November 2021.
Space INSPIRE: a digital solution reconfigurable on orbit
Our customers increasingly need the agility to develop advanced services and seize new business opportunities. Space INSPIRE is a digital, ultra-flexible solution that is fully reprogrammable in orbit, allowing operators to match capacity to demand anytime and anywhere, whatever the frequency band. With its software-defined technology, Space INSPIRE is a game-changer for the fast-moving communications market.
In 2022, Thales Alenia Space was awarded contracts for six out of ten competitively sourced telecommunications satellites, including 5 Space INSPIRE satellites. Our solution was chosen for Intelsat 41, Intelsat 44, ARABSAT-7A and SES-26, as well as Eutelsat’s Flexsat. For the second year running, Thales Alenia Space is number one in the geostationary communications satellite market.
The development of the Space INSPIRE product line is supported by CNES and by ESA’s Novacom II Partnership Project.