Technicians working inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida unfolded and fully extended the first of two five-panel solar arrays built for NASA’s Europa Clipper in preparation for inspection and cleaning as part of assembly, test, and launch operations.

On March 6, technicians working inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida unfolded and fully extended the first of two five-panel solar arrays for the agency’s Europa Clipper spacecraft. Each solar array measures 46.5 feet in length. For the operation, the team suspended the solar array on a gravity offload support system that helps support the weight of the solar array while it’s here on Earth. Up next, technicians will begin inspecting and cleaning as part of assembly, test, and launch operations. Planned to arrive at Jupiter in April 2030, the mission will study Jupiter’s moon Europa, which shows strong evidence beneath its icy crust of a global ocean over twice the volume of all Earth’s oceans. The spacecraft will ship to Florida later this year from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California in preparation for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. 

Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky