Making a fast entry into the new year, our colleague Antonio Pedivellano talked about the project PowerCube, DcubeD’s innovative, scalable solar array architecture capable of generating 100W packaged in just one CubeSat unit of volume (1U), in the Advanced Spacecraft Structures Concepts Session of SciTech 2022 organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The SciTech forum, which is one of the world’s largest events for aerospace R&D, took place in a hybrid format this year, featuring on-site and virtual talks.
As the New Space transition advances, the need for high-power solar arrays is stronger than ever. Initiated by this demand, the goal of the PowerCube is to develop a deployable solar array for high-performance nanosatellites that can generate 100W EOL and can be stored in a 1U volume. To maximize power generation per stowed volume, DcubeD used advanced architectures and high-performance materials. After the concept trade-off, a 1 m2 structure with an iso-area flasher origami was chosen. The structure consisting of dual-matrix composite substrate and elastic hinges is to be deployed in two steps: The packaged solar array is extracted from the 1U volume using a spring-loaded mechanism triggered by one of DcubeD’s release actuators. The solar array is then passively deployed by releasing the energy stored during packaging. Thanks to the stiffness of the composite material, the unfolded structure self-supports and remains its position.
The PowerCube project is carried out under an ESA ARTES contract and the prime contractor DcubeD is working with German Orbital Systems GmbH, Azur Space Solar Power GmbH and TH Deggendorf. To ensure a fast route to market, DcubeD teamed up with CalPoly (USA) on the PowerSat satellite, which is selected by NASA to be flown in late 2022/early 2023 as a part of the ELaNa IOD program.
With the functional prototyping ongoing and the Verified Design Review ahead, PowerCube is on the way to achieve such power levels that have not been achieved yet for this volume.