4
$\begingroup$

I am trying to understand the supply chain behind the Starlink Satellite Constellation. I am wondering how SpaceX is able to source those many solar panels. If somebody could give a brief explanation, it would be great.

$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ Standard silicon panels are made by the acre. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 2:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't be surprised if the answer is Rocket Lab, but I would bet more on SpaceX itself, or maybe Tesla. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Rocket Lab does make Solar Panels, which are extremely costly ( but we don't know if SpaceX buys from them ). For some reason the supply chain of SpaceX is so mysterious. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 17:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BharathSimhaReddy SpaceX's supply chain is "so mysterious" because SpaceX is a privately held company. SpaceX has to release some of its intellectual property to NASA, the FAA, SpaceX employees, and SpaceX investors, but those people and organizations are limited by need to know and are bound by non-disclosure agreements. SpaceX does not need to disclose everything and instead prefer to not disclose anything. As an example, SpaceX prefers to not write patents because even though protected, that would be releasing too much (in SpaceX's opinion). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 9:51

1 Answer 1

4
$\begingroup$

At least some of the solar cells are (have been?) produced by Taiwan Solar Energy Corp See Starlinks Deepens Cooperations With Taiwan on Solar Cells, and a reddit discussion of that article.

The panels that Starlink uses are cheap, silicon based panels, similar to the ones that you might put on your roof, or even more similar to the ones that are in Tesla solar roof tiles. These are less durable in space, but the calculation is that an individual Starlink satellite has a short life expectancy, so the solar panel can be cheap.

There is no difficulty in producing this area of solar panel, the raw materials are easily available and the manufacturing process is mature. The choice of TSEC seems to be driven by a cost/quality analysis. TSEC are the cheapest that meet the Starlink specifications.

That article is a couple of years old now (and no longer available on the internet) It is possible that Starlink has a diversity of suppliers (to add resilience to it's supply chain).

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ What is the substrate material is it CFRP-based or FR-4-based, or is it something completely different? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ That would seems to be a new question. If you have a new question you can ask it as such (perhaps referring bak to this one) $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 21:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.