SpaceX Dragon The First Spacecraft Using Solar Panels

I wonder what it feels like to know that you’ve contributed to space expeditions and, indirectly, to the future of mankind? Very proud, I assume, as must feel the engineers from SpaceX, a private space transport company led by Elon Musk, also Tesla Motors’ CEO.

During its first mission to the International Space Station, the Dragon spacecraft will spread out solar arrays within minutes after its departure.

The arrays will be put in place to capture the energy needed to run sensors, cooling and heating systems as well as keeping in touch with SpaceX’s Mission Control Center and the ISS.

The expected 5,000 watts of power generated by Dragon’s solar arrays, would do well enough for 80 standard light bulbs. Other American spacecraft, including the famous Apollo, opted for fuel cells or battery packs, but neither offer long-term power as the solar arrays.

Fuel cells are conditioned by the fact that the spacecraft has to carry both hydrogen and oxygen, while batteries can be rather cumbersome. Still, the engineers will go for a battery pack as the completing source.

So how will this energetic duo work? The battery pack will receive the electricity from the solar arrays and will power the Dragon spacecraft while traveling across Earth’s shadow.

As an observation, other commercial satellites or NASA missions are already familiar with solar arrays, but the big deal is that Dragon is the first American commercial transport vehicle to do so. We are now waiting to see how well they will do in space since they are now installed on the vehicle. The Dragon spacecraft is preparing to launch…

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