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A survey is made of the present status of technology of solar photovoltaic, photoemissive, thermoelectric and thermionic power systems for spacecraft. The subjects of radiation damage to solar cells, power-system design, and solar simulation are reviewed. Various types of solar power systems are discussed and compared with respect to weight, availability, environmental tolerance, and cost. It is concluded that solar photovoltaic and solar thermionic systems are most desirable for power levels up to 3 kw. However, the life capability of thermionic converters has not yet been established. Solar thermoelectric and photoemissive systems will be less desirable because of their lower efficiency and, therefore, larger area per unit power output, except for missions where radiation resistance or economy are paramount considerations.
Date of Publication: Jan. 1962