Low-Earth Orbit Constellation Satellites Powered by Saft Batteries Take Flight

Saft has announced its lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries were on board the eleven new-generation satellites, built by Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC), launched on December  21st 2015 by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida for the ORBCOMM  Generation 2 (OG2) constellation, a telecommunication network. The successful launch demonstrates the reliable performance of Saft’s low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation batteries using Li-ion chemistry. This success follows the previous launch of six OG2 satellites on July 14, 2014.

The OG2 constellation is a network of 17 LEO satellites that provide reliable and cost-effective machine-to-machine (M2M), wireless communications to and from anywhere in the world. The partnership with SNC began in 2008 with a multi-million-dollar contract to provide 18 8S6P MPS batteries, representing one of Saft’s largest single award for small satellites.

ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites are more advanced than its ORBCOMM Generation 1 (OG1) satellites and will provide customers with significant enhancements, such as faster message delivery, larger message sizes and better coverage at higher latitudes, while significantly increasing network capacity.

Saft’s supplied batteries are equipped with Medium Prismatic Satellite cells (MPS). Each satellite uses one battery pack containing MPS176065 cells, providing 30Ah with 28V. Saft’s MPS battery possess proven, specific qualifications for use in space environments for several years. The battery will power the satellite when it is blocked from sunlight for up to 35 minutes per orbit during the entire duration of the mission.

In order to retain the relatively small size of ORBCOMM’s LEO satellites, the technology must be able to operate under significantly lower power requirements with smaller batteries than geostationary (GEO) satellites. Chosen for their low-weight and high-voltage capabilities, Saft’s batteries reduce 50 percent of the satellite’s battery weight on average, allowing the OG2 satellites to carry a larger payload. The low-thermal power and high-energy efficiency of Saft’s Li-ion batteries enables the installation of smaller solar panels and battery radiators to further reduce the critical weight of the satellite.

“The launch of the OG2 satellites demonstrates the capabilities of Saft’s high-energy Li-ion batteries for LEO space applications,” said Annie Sennet, vice president of Saft’s Space & Defence Division. “The completion of Saft’s inaugural LEO constellation satellite subcontract with SNC demonstrates our ability to successfully compete in all satellite markets, from high-power geostationary telecom satellites to small LEO satellites.”

SNC is contracted to build the satellites for the OG2 constellation.  SNC’s Space Systems designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. Government, commercial customers, as well as for the international market.