In the Spotlight

SolarFlex solar arrays set to fly on Space INSPIRE satellites

In the Spotlight

SolarFlex solar arrays set to fly on Space INSPIRE satellites

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    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.

    About SolarFlex

    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.

    SolarFlex is developed in partnership with the Czech BSTG consortium. This avant-garde project is supported by the French space agency CNES, the Czech government, and the Belgian (BELSPO), through ARTES programs (ARTES Competitiveness & Growth and Novacom II).

    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

    Space Inspire

    Space INSPIRE © Thales Alenia Space

    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 Space INSPIRE product line is supported by CNES since the preliminary phase for system, satellite and payload development. Several European components of the satellite are also supported through ESA via ARTES programs (ARTES Competitiveness & Growth and Novacom II).