Aerospace and defence company Boeing has agreed to provide Nasa with six new additional solar arrays for the International Space Station (ISS).

The agreement is part of the Boeing’s ISS sustainment contract modification with Nasa.

Expected to commence installation this year, the new solar arrays will enhance the orbiting laboratory’s health with increased power supply.

It will also help bolster the ISS’ increasing research capabilities.

Boeing ISS president and programme manager John Mulholland said: “When it comes to game-changing research and technological development, the space station is currently hitting its full stride.

“These arrays, along with other recent upgrades to the station’s power system and data-transfer speed, will ensure that ISS remains an incubator and business model in the commercial space ecosystem for the coming decades.

“Access to this unique lab will continue to pay off as researchers study the challenges of future deep-space exploration and make discoveries that improve life on Earth.”

The new 63ft x 20ft arrays together will generate more than 120kW of solar electricity.

In addition to the eight original larger arrays, this advanced hardware will increase the power supply by 20% to 30%.

Santa Barbara-based Deployable Space Systems will be responsible to produce the structure of the new arrays, including the canister and frame.

Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab will manufacture the arrays’ XTJ Prime solar cells.

Spectrolab president Tony Mueller said: “The XTJ Prime space solar cells are much more efficient than any of their predecessors and are fit to support the cutting-edge research being done aboard the International Space Station.”