Saft Li-Ion Batteries Selected for GEO Telecom Satellites

October 05, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

Saft (France), a manufacturer of specialized batteries for industrial and defense applications, announced that Orbital Sciences Corp. (Dulles, VA) ordered lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries for two geosynchronous (GEO) communications satellites, which will incorporate Saft’s high-energy, space Li-Ion cells and batteries. Both flight sets of satellite batteries will be delivered in 2006.

The first spacecraft batteries order is for the PAS-11 satellite that Orbital is building for PanAmSat Corp., which will generate approximately 4.5 kW of electrical power and will weigh approximately 2,500 kg at launch. The satellite will provide video, fixed telecommunications, and direct-to-home television broadcast services from a mid-Atlantic orbital location. The second spacecraft batteries are for the Horizons-2 satellite that Orbital is building for a 50/50 joint venture between PanAmSat and JSAT Corp. The Horizons-2 satellite will deliver approximately 3.5 kW of payload power, will weigh approximately 2,300 kg at launch, and will provide video and telecommunications services over the United States.

The rechargeable Li-ion batteries will deliver the satellite power during two eclipse seasons per year when the spacecraft is blocked from the sun. The Li-Ion batteries allow the spacecraft manufacturer and user to decrease the satellite’s weight significantly versus the previously used nickel-hydrogen battery chemistry. The approximately 30 percent to 50 percent weight savings on the battery (yielded from Saft’s Li-Ion battery high specific energy of 120 Wh/kg) allows the satellite manufacturer and user to dedicate more of the satellite’s crucial mass to the payload, or revenue generating part of the spacecraft.

Saft President John Searle said, "Saft is delighted with the choice Orbital has made for their satellite batteries. We are pleased to see that our US space customers now recognize the benefits that Saft’s Li-Ion technology brings. The confidence Orbital has shown Saft in selecting us for these next satellites in the STAR2 platform series is an indicator of the hard work that both our teams have put forth in our continued partnership with the Li-Ion technology. Saft commits to work hard for Orbital on these programs to ensure an on-time delivery and quality batteries."