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Since 2005, with the approval of the Space Industrial Base Council and it's Critical Technologies Working Group, Space and Missile Systems Center has coordinated the near-term evaluation, selection, and funding for National Security Space power technologies, as well as efforts to reduce on-orbit anomalies caused by varying quality in the industry. In order to mitigate on-orbit issues, solar panel and cell qualification standards AIAA S-111-2005 and S-112-2005 were conceived in response to the “best commercial practice” environment fostered by Act Reform in 1994. In 2007, for new technology insertion, the Air Force was directed to ensure that all new technologies were certified to technology readiness level 6 by key decision point “B” in the spacecraft acquisition process. In response to this, AIAA S-122-2007 implemented common TRL language to enable investment in research, development, productization, qualification, and implementation of new technologies. AIAA S-122-2007 also provides risk mitigation approaches that govern power margin for low-TRL approaches. From the new definitions, TRL status tables were constructed to provide planners with state of practice and predictions of TRL readiness for forward mission planning. ITAR changes were proposed in 2007, with resulting changes in international trade law in 2010. Coordination of a national photovoltaic test center of excellence at NASA Glenn and the creation of the interagency Near Space Characterization of Advanced Photovoltaic(s) organization to provide a central clearinghouse for ground test validation, Lear Jet testing and balloon flights is currently in-place. A discussion of all of these events, as well as TRL status and projections of near-term state-of-the-art space solar cell technologies are presented here.
Date of Conference: 3-8 June 2012