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Rocket Lab to Build Solar Array for NASA GLIDE Spacecraft

By Rachel Jewett | June 10, 2022

NASA’s GLIDE mission will advance understanding of how the particles and energy in space – shown here flowing from the Sun in an illustration of the solar wind – affect the fundamental nature of space. Photo: NASA

Ball Aerospace awarded Rocket Lab a subcontract to manufacture the solar array panel for NASA’S GLIDE heliophysics mission. Ball Aerospace is building the spacecraft for NASA based on its Ball Configurable Platform.

The mission will use solar array panel from Rocket Lab company SolAero. The panel uses high-efficiency, radiation-hardened, quadruple-junction Z4J solar cells, laid down on carbon composite facesheet panels. 

“Rocket Lab has become the ‘go-to’ provider of space solar power and space systems products throughout the space industry, including for ambitious heliophysics missions like GLIDE,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “I am grateful to our partners at Ball Aerospace for selecting Rocket Lab and excited to be working with them to support NASA’s Heliophysics missions to deliver advanced science.”

GLIDE — Global Lyman-Alpha Imager of Dynamic Exosphere— is a heliophysics mission that will study variability in Earth’s atmosphere. It will launch alongside National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) SWFO-L1 is a heliophysics mission in 2025. Rocket Lab is also providing the power for SWFO-L1.  

Rocket Lab announced the award on June 9. Financial terms were not disclosed.