SSPIDR photovoltaic wing deployment.
Image credit: MMA Design


Progress is being reported on the Space Solar Power Initiative orchestrated by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) program.

MMA design of Louisville, Colorado has developed and delivered a flight deployment subsystem for the AFRL’s Arachne flight experiment.

The Arachne experiment utilizes components known as “sandwich tiles” to perform solar-to-radio frequency (RF) conversion. Solar energy is collected, converted to RF energy, then would be beamed to precise locations on Earth for conversion back into useable power.

According to MMA Design, Arachne is seen as a stepping stone in AFRL’s overarching goal: Developing a larger scale system capable of beaming energy wherever it is needed, including remote military bases or even communities in need of temporary power when ravaged by climate emergencies.

Artist’s rendering of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Arachne flight experiment on orbit.
Image credit: Partise

Structural backbone

MMA Design, in partnership with Northrop Grumman and AFRL, has delivered the custom designed and fabricated subsystem hardware as the structural backbone of Arachne’s primary payload.

“The Deployment Subsystem includes a dual-port structural adapter for Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar platform, structural panels for the sandwich tiles, hinges, segment angular position adjustment mechanisms, photovoltaic tiles, a launch restraint/release system, and a camera system for monitoring deployment,” explains an MMA Design press statement provided to Inside Outer Space.

The assembly is being delivered to Northrop Grumman for final integration and test with a planned launch in 2025.

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