Saft will achieve a major milestone when the 200th satellite equipped with its lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology takes flight in the coming weeks on the second Iridium NEXT . The Iridium NEXT satellites have been built by Thales Alenia Space, who serves as prime contractor. The anticipated launch marks 63 total low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites in operation using Saft batteries.
A pioneer in space technology, Saft’s batteries debuted in the 1966 Diapason launch. With more than 400 batteries in orbit, Saft has the largest fleet of batteries in space, equating to more than 35,000 cells with more than 620 million hours operation. Saft also has more than 2.5 million Wh of Li-ion batteries in space.
Battery packs comprised of VES16 cells, a dedicated design for LEO will be on board the satellites for Iridium NEXT’s upcoming launch, which includes 10 of the 81 satellites built for the new constellation.
“When operating in orbit thousands of miles from control, reliable power is crucial for space missions,” said Annie Sennet, Executive Vice President of Saft’s Space & Defense division.
“We collaborate with customers from cell chemistry development to in-orbit operation ensuring all precise space requirements are achieved to enable a successful mission.”
The VES16 is the premier LEO cell globally, with performances of 50% depth-of-discharge in LEO for more than 10 years. It is a low capacity cell, with safety devices inside. Saft’s Li-ion provide exceptional reliability, lasting up to 18 years with proven performance in harsh conditions. With modular and flexible designs, the lightweight systems are customizable to meet a mission’s specific needs.
In addition to partnerships with satellite original equipment manufacturers, Saft works closely with space agencies and other customers in the space industry to provide dependable power for applications including planetary rovers, exploratory satellites, launchers and more. Saft is the only battery manufacturer to supply all three technologies used in space: nickel-based, primary and rechargeable Li-ion. The VES16 cells are designed, manufactured, assembled, integrated and tested in Saft’s Poitiers, France facility.