Orbital Sciences Corp. picks battery for telecom satellites

Oct. 5, 2005
BALTIMORE, 5 Oct. 2005. Saft announced today that Orbital Sciences Corp., of Dulles, Va., ordered lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for two geosynchronous (GEO) communications satellites, which will incorporate Saft's qualified high-energy space Li-ion cells and batteries.

BALTIMORE, 5 Oct. 2005. Saft announced today that Orbital Sciences Corp., of Dulles, Va., ordered lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for two geosynchronous (GEO) communications satellites, which will incorporate Saft's qualified high-energy space Li-ion cells and batteries.

The rechargeable Li-ion batteries will deliver the satellite power during two eclipse seasons per year when the spacecraft is blocked from the sun.

Saft's Li-ion batteries allow the spacecraft manufacturer and user to decrease the satellite's weight significantly versus the previously used nickel-hydrogen battery chemistry. This 30- to 50-percent weight savings on the battery (yielded from Saft's Li-ion battery high specific energy of 120 Wh/kg) allows the satellite manufacturer and user to dedicate more of the satellite's crucial mass to the payload, or revenue generating part of the spacecraft.

Both flightsets of satellite batteries will be delivered in 2006.

The first spacecraft batteries order is for the PAS-11 satellite that Orbital is building for PanAmSat Corp. PAS-11 will generate approximately 4.5 kilowatts of electrical power and will weigh approximately 2.5 kilograms at launch. The satellite will provide video, fixed telecommunications, and direct-to-home television broadcast services from a mid-Atlantic orbital location.

The second spacecraft batteries are for the Horizons-2 satellite that Orbital is building for a 50/50 joint venture between PanAmSat Corp. and JSAT Corp. The Horizons-2 satellite will deliver approximately 3.5 kilowatts of payload power, it will weigh approximately 2.3 kilograms at launch, and will provide video and telecommunications services over the United States.

"Saft is delighted with the choice Orbital has made for their satellite batteries. We are pleased to see that our U.S. space customers now recognize the benefits that Saft's Li-ion technology brings. The confidence Orbital has shown Saft in selecting us for these next satellites in the STAR2 platform series is an indicator of the hard work that both our teams have put forth in our continued partnership with the Li-ion technology. Saft commits to work hard for Orbital on these programs to ensure an on-time delivery and quality batteries," said Saft President John Searle.

"Orbital is pleased to award these 3rd and 4th GEO Li-ion battery programs to Saft, which extends the relationship that Saft and Orbital have developed over the past few years," said Dr. Ali Atia, head of Orbital's GEO satellite business unit. "Saft offers a high-performance, heritage battery technology, which is an important element in Orbital's advanced satellite design and has become the clear spacecraft of choice in the market for satellites that generate under five kilowatts of power."

The order from Orbital adds to Saft's extensive list of spacecraft programs (28 under contract to-date), and enhances Saft's growth in the U.S. space battery market. Saft recently delivered Li-ion batteries to Orbital for the OPTUS D1 and D2 GEO satellites, both of which are scheduled for launch in 2006. Also, in April 2005, Saft and Orbital launched space Li-ion batteries onboard NASA's Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft where the batteries were commended by Orbital for their performance.

Saft's Li-ion batteries for space are based on the company's heritage high-energy technology, which is used across many applications, such as space, electric vehicles, aircraft, military vehicles, launch systems, and underwater vehicles. Saft's unique ability to produce the chemistry industrially for high quantities and also tailor it to the specific needs of the space industry makes it more attractive in terms of reproducibility and cost competitiveness in the space battery market. The European space markets have already used and baselined this technology for various applications, while the U.S. space community has been further evaluating the technology. The recent Orbital orders are further evidence of U.S. users embracing Saft's Li-ion technology and all the competitive advantages it offers.

Saft is a world specialist in the design and manufacture of high-tech batteries for industry. Saft batteries are used in high performance applications such as industrial infrastructure and processes, transportation, space and defense. Saft is the world's leading manufacturer of nickel-cadmium batteries for industrial applications and of primary lithium batteries for a wide range of end markets. The group is also the European leader for specialized advanced technologies for the defense and space industries. With approximately 4,000 employees worldwide, Saft is present in 17 countries. Its 16 manufacturing sites and extensive sales network enable the group to serve its customers worldwide. For more information, see www.saftbatteries.com.

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