Sparkwing solar panels from Airbus DS NL to power lunar mission of Masten
Sparkwing solar panels from Airbus DS NL to power lunar mission of Masten Sparkwing, the off-the-shelf solar panels for small satellites developed by Airbus DS NL, has been selected by USA-based Masten Space Systems for their XL-1 lunar lander. In 2023, the XL-1 spacecraft will land at the lunar South Pole as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. XL-1 will be equipped with six body-mounted Sparkwing solar panels, to be delivered next year, to charge the vehicle’s power system during transition to the Moon as well as during operations on the Moon’s surface. The Sparkwing solar panels from Airbus DS NL are the world’s first commercially available off-the-shelf option for small spacecraft. Plugging 3D models of standard Sparkwing components into the spacecraft design allowed for a speedy evaluation on where to place items and where it would need customization to meet the specific needs of Masten Mission 1. This led to a XL-1 specific design derivative of the Sparkwing catalogue product, with increased panel sizing and cut-outs on both long edges of the panel to accommodate the landing legs of the spacecraft. Each solar panel has 320 solar cells, with 3G30 space-grade solar cells provided by Azur Space. Building on over fifty years of experience in developing solar arrays, Airbus uses a “mix and match” approach of combining standard components with specific adaptations where needed for the Sparkwing solar panels.