Solar Arrays

Solar Arrays  

Northrop Grumman is the industry leader for design, development, and production of a variety of unique turn-key solar array systems. Major products include the PUMA solar array, used on the Global Positioning System and Northrop Grumman’s Star-2 GEO family satellites; the unique UltraFlex solar array for civil space programs such as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Mars Phoenix; concentrator systems; and electro-statically clean and/or magnetically clean systems.

Panel Arrays

Our most common platform, the PUMA (Planar Unfolding Modular Array), is a high heritage, rigid panel solar array scalable from 200W to over 10kW per wing suitable for small or large satellites. PUMA arrays benefit from compatibility with all solar cell types, high recurring production rates and interchangeable standard parts and designs. Many different standoff structure options are available for the PUMA array.


Northrop Grumman invented and flight-qualified the UltraFlex solar array to provide a leap forward in specific power (W/kg) and stowed power density (W/m3) from competing state of the art arrays. Using innovative packaging and deployment methods, the wing stows to a much smaller volume and footprint on the spacecraft. At the same time, the design is inherently stiff and strong in its deployed configuration, due to the efficiency of the tensioned blanket supported by the backbone formed by the stowage panels. In many cases UltraFlex can enable mission feasibility by these unique performance characteristics. UltraFlex powered the successful Mars Phoenix Lander mission in 2008.

UltraFlex is an accordion fanfold flexible-blanket solar array comprising interconnected triangular shaped ultra-lightweight substrates (gores). During deployment each interconnected gore unfolds and becomes tensioned to form a shallow umbrella-shaped membrane structure. UltraFlex is compatible with all solar cell technologies, including the ultra-lightweight IMM cells anticipated to be ready for flight within the near future.


Northrop Grumman is a leader in photovoltaic concentrator technologies, including the successful demonstration of 7:1 refractive Fresnel concentrator technology aboard NASA’s Deep Space 1 (DS-1), as well as the flight tested CellSaver reflective concentrator which functions at a 2:1 concentration for a direct replacement of 50% of standard PV cells, allowing a significant mass and cost reduction for virtually any solar array system. In addition to these flight-proven optical concentrators, Northrop Grumman is currently developing high (100:1) optical concentration solar arrays for NASA to provide affordable, high-performance solar power suitable for missions to distant and/or harsh radiation environments such as Jupiter.

Electro-Static Clean Solar Array Systems

Northrop Grumman has provided Electro-static and magnetically clean solar array panels for several spacecraft including the Themis constellation and C/NOFS. These unique solar panels use a fully conductive surface to provide less than 1V of surface charging potential and less than 0.1mA-m2 to prevent interference with scientific instruments. For more information on these systems, contact the company’s Goleta, California, facility.

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