Rocket Lab Begins Qualification of Highest Performing Space Solar Cell Technology

Rocket Lab Begins Qualification of Highest Performing Space Solar Cell Technology

LONG BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (“Rocket Lab” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: RKLB), a global leader in launch services, space systems and space-based solar power products, today announced that its next-generation solar cell technology is undergoing qualification. The cell is the next product of SolAero’s patented Inverted MetaMorphic (IMM) solar cell technology, called IMM-β, which is expected to exhibit a conversion efficiency of approximately 33.3% by production volume. IMM-β is the 4and Generation IMM product created by SolAero Technologies Inc. (SolAero), a space solar energy company acquired by Rocket Lab in January 2022.

The IMM-β solar cell is expected to be the most efficient space solar cell technology in high-volume production. The cell boasts an average start-of-life (BOL) efficiency of 33.3%, compared to 32% for the IMM-α which is currently in mass production. IMM-β is also a radiation resistant cell with a remaining power factor of 87% after exposure to 1 MeV electrons at a fluence of 1E15 e/cm2 or the equivalent of approximately 15 years of life in GEO. Currently undergoing final space qualification testing, the cells are expected to be ready for commercial use later in 2022.

In addition to its unparalleled efficiency, the IMM is over 40% lighter than conventional space-grade solar cells, helping to make satellites more cost effective.

“We are excited to bring this next big step in solar cell performance to market,” said Brad Clevenger, vice president and general manager, Space Systems Power Solutions. “In partnership with our colleagues at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), we are not only bringing to market the most efficient and lightest space solar cell in the world, but we are doing so at the most competitive cost of any IMM technology at this day. The impact of IMM-β on solar arrays and launch mass will make it a compelling option for satellite integrators. »

“IMM-β’s superior performance is a mission enabler in many applications in the civil, military and commercial space markets. It is also the next stepping stone to even better future IMM solar cell technologies, cementing SolAero’s segment leadership position for many years to come,” added Navid Fatemi, Vice President of Business Development, SolAero.

“For 20 years, SolAero has been an innovation leader in space-based solar energy and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Rocket Lab team as they achieve a new technological milestone,” said Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. “The SolAero team has enabled pioneering science missions to distant interplanetary destinations and powered commercial constellations of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit, and together with the new IMM-β cells, they can propel the future of space exploration. . Solar power is a crucial part of every spacecraft and SolAero is already home to the world’s largest high-performance solar cell production line. Now, with Rocket Lab’s resources and manufacturing capability, we look forward to scaling the business to meet the growing demands of the global space market.

Founded in 1998 and acquired by Rocket Lab in 2022, SolAero, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has produced solar cells, solar panels and composite structural products for more than 1,000 successful space missions with 100% reliability . Over the past two decades, SolAero products have played key roles in some of the industry’s most ambitious space missions, including providing power to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, James Webb Space Telescope and the Mars Insight lander, as well as several Cygnus Cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station.

+ About Rocket Lab

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We provide reliable launch services, spacecraft components, satellites and other spacecraft and in-orbit management solutions that make getting to space faster, easier and more affordable. Based in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the small Electron orbital launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform and develops the 8-ton Neutron payload-class launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launcher has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket each year and has delivered 110 satellites into orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling national security, scientific research and space debris mitigation. , Earth observation, climate monitoring and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site in New Zealand, and a second launch site in Virginia, United States, which is expected to become operational. in 2022. To learn more, visit