BOEING SATELLITE SYSTEMS, INC.
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Public Relations (310) 364-6363
Spectrolab Celebrates Production of One Millionth Multi-Junction Solar Cell (photo)
SYLMAR, Calif., July 30, 2002 -- Spectrolab, the world's largest manufacturer of space solar cells, has reached an unprecedented industry milestone of producing over one million multi-junction gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells. These multi-junction solar cells provide up to two times more power than the conventional silicon solar cells that they replace. Multi-junction cells have been used on numerous flight-proven satellite designs. Spectrolab is a unit of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA].
"I am proud of our team's accomplishment in delivering over one million advanced solar cells and the quarter-megawatt of power the cells provide to operating spacecraft using this technology. This is a direct reflection of our ability to continuously improve our technology and provide our customers with high quality, competitive power system design choices," said David Lillington, president of Spectrolab.
Spectrolab's customers include virtually all the world's prime spacecraft and solar array manufacturers, including Alcatel, Astrium, AEC-Able, Ball Aerospace, Boeing Satellite Systems, Lockheed Martin and many other primes and government organizations.
The one million multi-junction solar cells produced by Spectrolab are a combination of dual-junction, triple-junction, and improved triple-junction solar cells. These solar cells collectively are called multi-junction cells because they employ a layered structure that more effectively captures and converts solar energy into electricity. Each of the junctions converts a different portion of the solar spectrum into electricity. In general, increasing the number of junctions in a solar cell improves its ability to convert light into electricity more efficiently.
According to Terry Cavicchi, vice president and general manager of Operations at Spectrolab, who led the team to implement multi-junction solar cell manufacturing at Spectrolab in the mid-1990's, these types of solar cells provide about twice the power per unit area compared to silicon solar cells. The dual-junction solar cell, first produced in 1997, provides a beginning of life efficiency of 21.5 percent. The dual-junction solar cell was first used on PAS-5, a commercial communication satellite built by Boeing Satellite Systems for PanAmSat Corporation.
The triple-junction solar cell, first produced in 1999, provides a beginning of life efficiency of 24.5 percent. In November 2001, DIRECTV-4S was the first commercial satellite to use triple-junction solar cells. The improved triple-junction solar cell, first produced in 2001, and already representing over 20% of the multi-junction cells produced to date, begins life providing over 26.5 percent conversion efficiency. The improved triple-junction solar cell debuted on Galaxy IIIC, a commercial satellite for PanAmSat Corporation that was launched on June 15, 2002.
"This volume of solar cells produced, delivered, and flown provides our satellite customers with a solid in-flight record of performance backed by years of on-orbit operation," said Dr. Lillington." Our objective continues to be to make timely, evolutionary improvements to our solar designs, thereby building on our very extensive flight heritage. Quality and reliability, at the same time providing best-value state-of-the-art solutions to our customers, remains our number one priority."
A next-generation Spectrolab solar cell, called the ultra-triple-junction solar cell will commence manufacturing during the fourth quarter of 2002. The solar cell is currently undergoing rigorous space qualification testing and will achieve over 28 percent conversion efficiency. Cells capable of more than 30 percent efficiency are under development and expected to commence manufacturing in around 2004.
Spectrolab, headquartered in Sylmar, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, has been producing solar cells for the space industry since 1958 and has delivered more than 600 kilowatts of multi-junction gallium arsenide solar cells to flight programs, with more than 250 kilowatts currently in orbit. Pioneer 1, launched in 1958, carried the first body-mounted panels used in space. Today, the most powerful satellite to orbit Earth, a Boeing 702 with a power output of 18 kw at beginning of life (BOL), is powered by Spectrolab solar cells and panels. Spectrolab also supplied the solar cells in the solar panels on the International Space Station and is a leading supplier of searchlights and solar simulators. Spectrolab possesses one of the largest MOVPE (Metal Organic Vapor Phase Epitaxy) facilities in North America. This state of the art production facility is used for the growth and fabrication of the device structures on which solar cells are based.
The Boeing Company is the largest aerospace company in the world and the United States' leading exporter. Boeing is NASA's largest contractor and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft. Boeing's capabilities in aerospace also include rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, rocket engines, launch vehicles, satellites, and advanced information and communication systems.