Saft has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract from Boeing to build Li-ion battery packs for four new 702SP communications satellites. The technology-rich “small platform” satellites, designed to operate in the 3- to 8-kilowatt power range, are being developed by Boeing for Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) and Satélites Mexicanos (Satmex).
The first two satellites, ABS-3A and Satmex 7, are scheduled to be completed by Boeing in early 2015 and launch together on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Saft will deliver batteries in 2013-2014 from its Cockeysville, MD Space & Defense Division factory. This is the first order for Boeing’s 702SP satellite program.
Saft will deliver multiple battery cells for each satellite. Each battery contains high-energy lithium-ion cells and modules with the batteries supplying 8kW of on-board power during its 15-year life. This battery power is delivered primarily during the two 45-day eclipse periods each year while in GEO satellite orbit.
This is the fourth order from Boeing for commercial satellite batteries since signing a long-term agreement with Saft in 2009. This new order increases Saft’s current GEO satellite programs to more than 60. The projects will also add to Saft’s total kilowatt hours in space and further establish the heritage of the high energy battery packs, which are used to power the Boeing 702 satellite programs (including Intelsat, Inmarsat, SkyTerra and MEXSAT).
The Boeing 702SP is engineered to be affordable and adaptable, equipped with next-generation technology and avionics designed to enhance performance, simplify operations and streamline access to critical data. Each satellite will weigh in the range of 1,900 to 2,100 kilograms yet will carry the payload of a much larger platform. Saft’s lightweight batteries contribute to the weight savings, allowing for two of these small satellites to be launched on a single rocket.
“Our long-term relationship with Boeing enables us to make mission-critical contributions to space technologies that provide dramatic benefits to the customer,” said Tom Alcide, General Manager of Saft’s Specialty Battery Group, adding, “Saft is extremely pleased to be developing innovative solutions in a marketplace with unlimited potential.”