Space Commerce

Rocket Lab Delivers Final Solar Panels for NASA Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
Rocket Lab
November 4, 2022
Filed under , , ,
Rocket Lab Delivers Final Solar Panels for NASA Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element
Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, has delivered the final solar panels to Maxar that will fly on the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for NASA’s Gateway lunar space station.

SolAero Technologies Inc, a leading space solar power provider acquired by Rocket Lab, was awarded the contract in 2019 from Maxar to design and manufacture the solar panels that will supply nearly 70 kilowatts of electrical power to Gateway, an essential element of NASA’s Artemis missions that will land the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the Moon.

Gateway is an international collaboration to establish humanity’s first space station in lunar orbit supporting sustained crewed and uncrewed deep space exploration and research, and helping pave the way to Mars. The orbiting outpost will include docking ports for a variety of spacecraft, space for crew to live and work, and on-board science investigations to study heliophysics, human health, and life sciences. The PPE is a high-power, solar electric propulsion spacecraft that will provide power, high-rate communications, altitude control, and orbital transfer capabilities.

The solar panels incorporate Rocket Lab’s quadruple-junction “Z4J” solar cells and utilize automated assembly methods pioneered by the Company’s Albuquerque-based team for high-volume production of satellite solar panels. The Z4J solar cells exhibit 30.0% minimum average conversion efficiency at beginning-of-life (BOL) and superior radiation hardness and temperature performance when compared to other Germanium-based solar cells.

“We are proud to have delivered the final modules to our partners at Maxar for assembly of the Roll Out Solar Array by Deployable Space Systems,” said Brad Clevenger, Rocket Lab’s Vice President & General Manager, Space Systems Power Solutions. “It is an honor for us to be providing such a critical component to Gateway and be part of humanity’s first space station in lunar orbit.”

“The delivery of these solar modules is another feather in our cap to support the Artemis program,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO. “In addition to being an integral part of powering the Power and Propulsion Element, Rocket Lab will also provide the power to the Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts from Earth to lunar orbit, and this comes off the back of our recent successful launch of the CAPSTONE spacecraft, a pathfinder satellite for NASA that is designed to test the same orbit intended for Gateway.”

  • ABOUT Rocket Lab

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, spacecraft components, satellites and other spacecraft and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle and the Photon satellite platform and is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 151 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand, and a second launch site in Virginia, USA which is expected to become operational in 2022. To learn more, visit


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    Michael Atchue
    +1 714-613-2072

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.