Ibadan, 17 October, 2022. – Rocket Lab, a leading launch and space systems company, has announced its selection by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to supply solar panels. The solar panels will power NASA’s shoe-box-sized mobile robots within the Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Explorers (CADRE) program.
The solar panels will use Rocket Lab’s inverted metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) solar cells and provide the exact capabilities necessary for the program. SolAero Technologies Inc, a leading space solar power company that Rocket Lab acquired in January 2022, developed the IMM cells. The IMM solar cells are an ideal type of space-grade solar cell. According to Rocket Lab, they offer best-in-class efficiency with 40% lower mass than typical space-grade solar cells. IMM is also powering General Atomics’ GAzelle spacecraft, which Rocket Lab launched as part of its 31st Electron mission earlier this month.
The CADRE robots are the next generation of NASA’s Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots (A-PUFFER) technology. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is designing the CADRE robots for group exploration to gather data in the hardest-to-reach places on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
“We’re incredibly proud to be supporting innovative new means of space exploration,” said Brad Clevenger, Rocket Lab’s Vice President of Space Systems. “The CADRE program could help map unexplored regions on the Moon and access hard-to-reach parts of Mars, expanding our understanding of distant planets and the Moon.”
Through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative, CADRE is targeted to fly as a technology demonstration on a commercial robotic lander within the next five years.