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Spectrolab Marks Production Milestones for Two High-Efficiency Solar Cell Models

LOS ANGELES--Oct. 4, 1999--Spectrolab Inc., supplier of more than half of the world's spacecraft solar cells, has reached a production milestone of 25,000 triple-junction gallium-arsenide (GaAs) solar cells, with an average conversion efficiency of 24.5 percent, its highest average efficiency yet.

Solar cells provide the primary electrical power for satellites in space and conversion efficiency is the ability to convert sunlight into electrical power. The first spacecraft with these cells is scheduled to fly by the end of the year.

Spectrolab also recently celebrated production of a half-million dual-junction GaAs solar cells. No other satellite solar cell manufacturer has achieved these delivery milestones. More than 50 kilowatts of these dual-junction cells are currently in-orbit.

Spectrolab's customers include Hughes Space and Communications Company, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Group, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

"We are proud of our dedication to continuously improving our technology and providing our industry with optimum competitive choices. In January, we were the first to offer triple-junction solar cells with an unprecedented maximum conversion efficiency of 27.1 percent," said Spectrolab President Dieter Zemmrich.

"The first flight of these triple-junction cells is scheduled for later this year on the Citizen Explorer 1 spacecraft, developed under NASA's Colorado Space Grant Consortium. By 2002, we plan to offer the next-generation solar cell, able to convert nearly 40 percent of the sun's rays into spacecraft electrical power.

"This volume of solar cells produced, delivered and flown provides our satellite customers with a solid in-flight record of performance backed by years of on-orbit operation. For our customers, satellite lifetime is paramount," Zemmrich continued.

"Our highly efficient solar cells are designed to deliver nearly 86 percent of their original power after 15 years in a geostationary orbit. Our customers depend more and more on available power to their satellites in order to boost their revenue streams, and assure payback of their investments."

Multi-junction GaAs solar cells are becoming the enabling power-generating source for rapid deployment of increased satellite capability. The use of more-efficient solar cells makes it possible to increase the power on existing, and flight-proven, satellite models, increasing the capability of today's satellite designs while the designs of tomorrow are still being developed.

The added efficiency also makes it possible to have either a lighter, smaller array of equivalent power or a more powerful array with no increase in size or weight.

Improved efficiency means a reduction in launch and on-orbit operational costs.

Spectrolab has boosted its production capacity to deliver nearly 1 megawatt of power per year to global spacecraft manufacturers, and has also increased its ability to transfer new designs into flight in half the time as compared to a few years ago.

Spectrolab, founded in 1956, has been supplying solar cells and panels to the space industry for 40 years. Pioneer 1, launched in 1958, carried the first body-mounted panels used in space. The following year, Explorer 6 used Spectrolab products and was the first satellite to use solar arrays instead of body-mounted panels.

Spectrolab is headquartered in Sylmar, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. It also is a leading supplier of searchlights and solar simulators. Hughes Electronics Corporation acquired Spectrolab in 1975.

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