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News

Saft Batteries Power Jules Verne in Maiden Mission


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Saft
: 22 April, 2008  (Application Story)
Saft specialised primary and rechargeable spaceflight batteries are powering the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) Jules Verne, the most challenging spacecraft ever engineered and produced in Europe, on its maiden mission to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS).
In the morning of March 9, the 19,4-tonne ATV, developed for the European Space Agency(ESA) by EADS ASTRIUM Space Transportation as the prime contractor, was placed successfully in a low earth orbit by an Ariane-5 vehicle launched from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. It is ferrying a load of propellants, food, water and scientific equipment and will be the first European spacecraft to autonomously dock with the ISS. Once docked, the ATV will become an extension of the space station, orbiting around 300 km above the Earth. When its month long mission is complete the ATV will be loaded with 6.5 tonnes of waste and separated from the ISS to fully burn up during a guided and controlled re-entry to the atmosphere high over the Pacific Ocean.

Jules Verne is the first in a programme of 5 ATVs planned to re-supply the ISS at
approximately 12-month intervals.

Saft has designed, developed and supplied all eight onboard primary and rechargeable
batteries required for the ATV Jules Verne, and has a long-term contract with EADS ASTRIUM Space Transportation to supply all the batteries for future ATV missions until
2011. Saftís experience in the management of battery development projects is a vital
element in the success of this complex programme which required the coordination of a number of manufacturing sites and two different battery technologies Saft primary lithium batteries (Li-MnO2) offer a particular advantage for spacecraft as their high specific energy helps to reduce the overall weight. They also comply with safety
qualifications for manned flight missions. This is important, because while the ATV will travel as an unmanned automated space vehicle once docked it will function as an integral part of the manned space station. Two primary lithium batteries will play a key role by supplying power for the separation of the ATV from the ISS at the end of its mission, while two other identical batteries will power the emergency procedures.

100 minutes after lift-off, the ATV became a fully automated spacecraft navigating towards the ISS. During this phase, its main power is derived from four large solar wings with backup provided by four nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries. Once docked, the Ni-Cd batteries will continue to provide power for the ATV during the approximately 30 minute periods of each 90 minute orbit that its solar panels are eclipsed by the Earthís shadow. Saft Ni-Cd batteries offer a particularly robust and reliable solution for this application, with a spaceflight heritage that goes back over 40 years.
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