Qinetiq battery brings rocket down to Earth

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A battery developed by a consortium led by Qinetiq has been used to power payloads in the final stages of the Foton-M3 mission into space.

The 5.4kWh battery consisted of two modules of 27 lithium sulphuryl chloride cells which could power the payloads for over 12 hours. The modules have a capacity of 90 ampere-hours each, an energy density well in excess of 300Wh/kg and a voltage, at discharge, of 35 volts.

Foton-M3, an unmanned Russian spacecraft, carried a payload of more than 40 European Space Agency (ESA) experiments. The battery was the sole power source during the re-entry, landing and recovery phases of the mission.

The mission lasted 12 days during which a series of microgravity experiments were conducted, including Aquahab, an aquatic habitat to observe the effects of weightlessness on single cell organisms and fish. The craft landed and was recovered from the semi-desert near the Russian-Kazakhstan border.

‘Working with ESA allows us to prove our advanced portable power technologies in the demanding environment of space,’ said Kevin Brundish, manager of Qinetiq's power sources business. ‘For the Foton-M3 mission we examined the full spectrum of battery chemistries to deliver a battery that made a vital contribution to the success of the onboard experiments.’