The History and Development of Solar Energy Technology

Spacecraft Powered

Original pair

The original pair of ISS solar arrays has been powering the station for over twenty years. Their wingspan is more than half a football field and they contain 262,400 solar cells.

Four pairs

There are four pairs of ISS solar arrays. Those in place since September 2006 have exceeded the original fifteen-year service life.


These solar cells are arranged into grids to create the solar panels. The original ISS solar arrays show obvious signs of degradation.

Each panel

Each panel is about eleven feet wide by 39 feet long and generates 120 kilowatts of electricity.


The Reagan administration took a step away from renewable energy during its tenure.

1973 oil

After the 1973 oil crisis, solar power became more interesting. Researchers started to work on new techniques for making solar cells cheaper.

Remove Federal

It opted to remove federal tax breaks for solar energy technology and dismantle some of the solar thermal panels in the White House. This decision did not come without controversy.


According to sources, Edwin Meese, a long-time adviser to Ronald Reagan, allegedly gave a thumbs-down to solar panels. He also issued memos to the Bush White House, advocating for a stall on climate change regulation.
These moves, in the eyes of some, indicate a reversal of an anti-environment stance that Ronald Reagan was famous for.
During his presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan was criticized for his lack of attention to environmental issues.


At the time, the nation’s largest private sector was investing in new wind and solar power technologies.

President Obama

And President Obama outlined his commitment to cut power plant emissions and slash the federal government’s carbon footprint.

Bush administration

The Bush administration increased the budget for energy technology research, development, and maintenance.


His opponents questioned his support for a clean energy policy.