Electronics Production | July 06, 2006
ABSL to help NASA return to the moon
ABSL Space Products (formerly AEA Technology Space) will continue its successful working relationship with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) with the $1.7M award of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Lithium-ion battery contract.
The LRO is a mission of high importance to meet the exciting goals of NASA's new vision for space exploration. In order to send manned crews to Mars and beyond, NASA first intends to return to the Moon to prove the new systems and technologies that are required for the longer journeys ahead. Furthermore, in order to safely conduct these necessary lunar precursor missions, a series of unmanned spacecraft will collect data under the Robotic Lunar Exploration Program (RLEP). As such, the RLEP will be the first crucial step on man's path to other planets in our solar system and LRO will be the first RLEP mission. The LRO battery will employ the same Lithium-ion cell that has been baselined for other NASA GSFC programs and has already clocked up over 2,500 cell years of operation in space without failure. The LRO battery is similar in construction to that employed on SDO with three stacked decks of cells. The battery has a capacity of over 110Ah supplied at a nominal voltage of 28V. Rob Spurrett, Director of ABSL Space Products commented: "We are delighted to be working with NASA once again. NASA GSFC are our largest North American customer but also have had the privilege to work with Johnson Space Center, the Jet Propulsions Laboratory and Glenn Research Center. The award of this contract fully justifies our ongoing activities to extend US-based personnel and capabilities." Gopal Rao at NASA GSFC said: "LRO is a mission that will accumulate a high number of charge/discharge numbers over the 5-year mission target duration. The proven performance of ABSL batteries in the high cycle operating environment of Low Earth Orbit, together with the quantity of lifetest data available on their cell, was crucial to their award of the LRO contract." Other recent successes for ABSL Space Products include the lift-off in March 2006 of a Pegasus rocket which launched the three NASA GSFC Space Technology 5 spacecraft that were powered by ABSL Lithium-ion hardware. ABSL has also delivered flight batteries for the THEMIS program and is building 120Ah batteries for the Geostationary Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) mission. The next chapter appears to be starting for ABSL with major development contracts from the European Space Agency (ESA) for LIDAR technology.
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