Built for Australia-based Optus Networks Pty Limited by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the Optus D3 will provide Ku-band fixed communications and direct television broadcasting services to Australia and New Zealand. The satellite is based on the flight-proven STAR™ bus and is among the most powerful GEO communications satellites ever built by Orbital, generating nearly 5.0 kilowatts of payload power.
The satellite carries 24 active Ku-band transponders on an ideal platform for telephony, data and broadcasting applications. “This launch makes a total of 37 spacecraft in orbit today using Saft Li-ion battery technology, demonstrating our leadership in bringing innovation and superior products to our space customers,” said Thomas Alcide, General Manager of Saft’s Special Battery Group. “We are truly thankful for the support from the ESA and CNES in the development and qualification of the cells.” “We are confident in Saft’s ability to provide reliable products and have chosen its Li-ion technology for several other satellites already in orbit, including the recently launched MEASAT-3a,” said Mr. Christopher Richmond, Orbital’s Vice President, Communications of its Space Systems Group. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality to our customers which is supported by utilizing Saft’s advanced Li-ion technology.”
The rechargeable Li-ion batteries will deliver satellite power during two eclipse seasons per year when the spacecraft is blocked from the sun, allowing Orbital to significantly decrease the satellite’s weight. This approximately 30 to 50 percent weight savings on the battery (yielded from Saft’s Li-ion electrochemistry with extremely high specific energy of 175 Wh/kg) allows Orbital to produce a more powerful satellite by dedicating more of its crucial mass to the payload, or revenue generating part of the spacecraft. The satellite was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana via the Ariane 5 launcher. Saft provided two Li-ion batteries with VES 180 cells in the 4P9S configuration, each delivering 50 Ah. The cells are manufactured in Bordeaux, France and the batteries are manufactured in Poitiers, France.
In addition to the Optus D3, Saft has provided batteries for several Orbital-built satellites, including the MEASAT-3a, which launched in June, and both the Optus D1 and Optus D2 satellites that launched in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Saft also supplied its Li-ion technology for Orbital’s Horizons-2 and THOR 5 satellites, both launched in 2008. Orbital’s KOREASAT 6 is currently being manufactured with Saft Li-ion batteries on-board and is scheduled for launch in 2010.