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US aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab takes over space solar cell maker Solaero

A space solar panel manufactured with Solaero cells.
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U.S.-based aerospace manufacturer and small satellite launch service provider Rocket Lab USA Inc has agreed to acquire space solar cell maker Solaero for $80 million.

The transaction is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of next year and is part of Rocket Lab’s plan to vertically integrate its products and services. “As one of only two companies producing high-efficiency, space-grade solar cells in the United States, Solaero’s space solar cells are among the highest performing in the world and support civil space exploration, science, defense and intelligence, and commercial markets,” Rocket Lab said in a statement. “In combining with Rocket Lab, Solaero will tap into the company’s resources and manufacturing capability to boost high-volume production, making high-performing space power technologies available at scale.”

Solaero operates an 11,000m² manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it produces different kinds of space solar cells.

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These include a 30%-efficient four-junction device on a germanium substrate; a 30.2%-efficient triple-junction solar cell optimized for low earth orbit (LEO) applications; a 29.5%-efficient standard triple-junction cell based on indium gallium phosphide (InGaP), indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) and germanium (Ge); a 29.4%-efficient triple-junction device based on a germanium substrate; and an inverted metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) cell with an efficiency of 32%.

Solaero claims its solar cells and products were used in more than 1,000 space missions since the company was created in 1998. “Solaero’s products have played key roles in some of the industry’s most ambitious space missions, including supplying power to NASA’s Parker solar probe and [the] Mars Insight Lander, the largest solar array ever deployed on the surface of Mars; and several Cygnus cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station,” it further explained.

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Source: pv magazine