NASA’s DART – the world’s first planetary defence technology demonstration – was successfully completed on 27th September 2022. After 10 months in space, a satellite impacted into an asteroid moonlet orbiting the asteroid, Didymos. The test demonstrated the ability to knock the moonlet out of orbit by a small, but measurable margin, a method that could theoretically be used in the event of a threat to the planet in the future.
In collaboration with aerospace partners Redwire, Southern Spars proudly manufactured the deployable booms that hold the 22sqm solar arrays providing power to the Xenon Ion Thruster which propels the satellite.
Roll-Out Solar Array Technology on DART
DART recently had its massive solar array “wings” installed at NASA’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology provides a compact form and light mass for launch. It will then deploy into two large arrays once DART is in space.
Each “wing” extends 8.6 meters – just over 28 feet – in length. The solar arrays on DART will use the same technology tested on the International Space Station. Using ROSA as the structure, a small portion of the DART solar array is configured to demonstrate Transformational Solar Array technology. The APL-developed Transformational Solar Array technology has very high-efficiency solar cells and reflective concentrators. This additional technology on ROSA will provide three times more power than current solar array capabilities.
The Roll-Out Solar Arrays will provide power to the spacecraft, allowing it to direct itself into its target, the binary asteroid system Didymos. DART will be the first-ever space mission to demonstrate asteroid deflection by kinetic impactor.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL
DART is the second fastest and farthest our laminates have ever travelled, following our booms, which are deployed on the International Space Station, which covers 150,000,000km/year at 28,000kph.
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