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Saft has won a contract with Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), a provider of small satellite missions, to develop, manufacture and supply Li-ion batteries for low-earth-orbit satellites.

The contract is for the supply of a battery system for the SSTL-100 platform that will play a vital role in Canada’s Sapphire space object surveillance programme.

This contract with Saft will enable SSTL to introduce an alternative to its current onboard Li-ion battery solution.

The battery system will secure SSTL’s critical supply, while also taking advantage of the superior robustness and reliability offered by Saft’s space-qualified MPS series Li-ion cells.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) is the mission prime for Sapphire, leading a team that includes SSTL and Com Dev of Cambridge, Ontario, who will build the payload.

The mission, due to launch by 2011, will provide a satellite-based resident space object (RSO) observing service that will provide accurate tracking data on deep space orbiting objects.

Sapphire will feature a space-based data collection platform for continuous surveillance of manmade objects in medium to high Earth orbits (6,000 to 40,000km).

The Saft battery system will work in conjunction with Sapphire’s solar array to provide the electrical power for the satellite’s on-board electronics.

When the solar array is fully exposed to the sun it will provide the satellite’s power as well as charging the batteries.

When it is ‘eclipsed’ by the earth, with no direct sunlight, the batteries will power the satellite.

This charge and discharge cycle will be repeated approximately every 100 minutes.

The 28V battery system comprises 24 Saft MPS 176065 space-qualified Li-ion cells in an eight series and three parallel configuration with a total nominal capacity of 16.8Ah and a total energy storage capability of 480Wh.

An integral autonomous cell balancing system and heating circuit will ensure the maximum possible battery life.

The MPS 176065 space-qualified cell, based on Saft’s MP series of prismatic rechargeable lithium-ion cells, provides a standard, modular approach for satellite battery systems and offers an extremely high capacity.

Saft’s lithium-ion electrochemistry uses cobalt and graphite-based active materials, combined with an organic solvent mix for the electrolyte.

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