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Satnews Daily
May 16th, 2018

Design Underway by German Orbital Systems and Space Structures for Advanced CubeSat Solar Array

German Orbital Systems (GOS) and Space Structures have combined their efforts to develop, design, build and fly the most advanced solar panel for cubesat-class smallsats — the project, entitled "ELSA-CS," is backed by Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB).

The "ELSA-CS" solar panel makes use of a modular architecture, allowing for reconfiguration for various missions, ensuring versatility and easy customization to fit a customer’s requirements. In the planned maximum configuration, the array will be deployed six times. Stowed, the array will be thin enough to fit into a typical cubesat deployer and generate up to 125 W at BOL in LEO.

Artistic rendition of ELSA-CS.
Image is courtesy of courtesy: German Orbital Systems.

GOS and Space Structures expect the array to be fully qualified and to enter the market in 2020. GOS was founded in 2014 by former scientific staff of the Technical University of Berlin and is the first German company focused on the cubesat market. The product portfolio includes subsystems and turn-key satellite missions, which consist of the ground-, space- and launch segments. Since 2016, GOS has been responsible for the separation sequence management units on almost all Soyuz Missions. In 2018 the company introduced their innovative GROOVE on orbit verification service.

Florian Ruess, CEO of Space Structures, said this project is only possible thanks to unprecedented miniaturization as well as a lightweight and reliable design. The partnership between German Orbital Systems and Space Structures allows the firm to combine the know-how of two worlds. ELSA-CS will be the best solution for cutting-edge 6U, 8U, 12U and 16U missions operating at various orbits — from LEO to GEO. Even interplanetary cubesat missions, which must deal with smaller solar constants, such as in a Mars orbit, will find it feasible to be equipped with this new array system.

The CEO of German Orbital Systems, Walter Ballheimer, added that the company believes that this new panel will increase the area of applications for cubesats. Currently, the available platform power limits the use cases. Certain enabling technologies, such as electric propulsion, require powerful platforms to be used effectively. In addition, while the volume and mass of typical satellite components constantly gets smaller, their power demand does not scale to the same factor. To enable further miniaturization, future CubeSats must generate more power at same or smaller form factors.