Broadcasters who use satellites can’t accept shutdowns, even when they happen only twice a year during eclipses. The Optus D3 satellite made by Orbital Sciences Corp. will use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries from Saft for power when the spacecraft is blocked from the sun during two eclipses. The two rechargeable Saft lithium ion 180W/hour average cells trim weight in half compared to alternative technologies studied by Orbital, letting the company add more critical payload equipment. It carries 32 transponders that will provide Ku-Band direct television broadcasting services to Australia and New Zealand after 2009.
With a better understanding of materials’ response to load and temperature, researchers could potentially use the knowledge to improve design. The research could even help geologists studying plate tectonics.
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