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Saft’s latest lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology is delivering power to the recently launched Optus D3 communications satellite.

The VES 180 cells provide an additional 30 per cent of energy (40Wh) in the same package size as the previous version (VES 140).

Saft developed the VES 180 cell with the help of the European Space Agency and The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) to offer the highest energy and energy density cells available for space applications.

Built for Australia-based Optus Networks by Orbital Sciences, the Optus D3 will provide Ku-band fixed communications and direct television broadcasting services to Australia and New Zealand.

The satellite is based on the flight-proven Star bus and is among the most powerful GEO communications satellites ever built by Orbital, generating nearly 5KW of payload power.

The satellite carries 24 active Ku-band transponders on an ideal platform for telephony, data and broadcasting applications.

The rechargeable Li-ion batteries will deliver satellite power during two eclipse seasons per year when the spacecraft is blocked from the sun, allowing Orbital to decrease the satellite’s weight.

The approximately 30 to 50 per cent weight savings on the battery (yielded from Saft’s Li-ion electrochemistry with extremely high specific energy of 175Wh/kg) allows Orbital to produce a more powerful satellite by dedicating more of its crucial mass to the payload, or revenue generating part of the spacecraft.

The satellite was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, via the Ariane 5 launcher.

Saft provided two Li-ion batteries with VES 180 cells in the 4P9S configuration, each delivering 50Ah.

The cells are manufactured in Bordeaux, France and the batteries are manufactured in Poitiers, France.

In addition to the Optus D3, Saft has provided batteries for several Orbital-built satellites, including the Measat-3a, which launched in June, and both the Optus D1 and Optus D2 satellites that launched in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Saft also supplied its Li-ion technology for Orbital’s Horizons-2 and Thor 5 satellites, both launched in 2008.

Orbital’s Koreasat 6 is currently being manufactured with Saft Li-ion batteries on-board and is scheduled for launch in 2010.

Saft Space and Defence Batteries

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