Inflatable Solar Collector (Jul, 1961)

It’s a giant space condom!

Inflatable Solar Collector

Rocketing into space in a canister the size of a teacup, a solar collector will billow out to a conical shape with a metalized Mylar reflector that is seven feet in diameter.

The sun’s rays striking the reflector are focused onto a collector. These rays will be transformed into heat energy which then may be used to power various electrical and mechanical instruments in space.

Under tests by the G. T. Schjeldahl Co., Northfield, Minn., the collector is held to precise dimension by a rim inflated to five pounds per square inch of pressure.

  1. Githyanki says: January 24, 20084:19 am

    Did they figure out using air pressure to inflate things in space was a patently bad idea? At the very least, it would use alot of oxygen.

  2. Alan J. Richer says: January 24, 200812:46 pm

    Actually, it’s not all that bad an idea, because it doesn’t need to be a breathable gas – just relatively inert.

    To put 5 PSI into the rim of something that size could easily be done with a small, light CO2 cartridge, or even a charge of flammable material and an ignitor. Not a bad way to deploy things at all – cheap and efficient.


  3. galessa says: January 26, 20084:15 pm

    Inflatable artificial satellites were a reality in the early 1960s, in the form of giant balls made of Mylar film.

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