Press Release

In an Industry First, Saft’s Lithium-ion Batteries Are Now Operating in a Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) on Eutelsat’s W3A Telecommunications and Bro

By SpaceRef Editor
March 19, 2004
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The March 16 launch of
Eutelsat’s W3A by a Proton rocket was the beginning of a revolution in GEO
satellite power. Never before have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries been
used in a geosynchronous earth orbit. Saft is the pioneer supplier of this
advanced battery technology to W3A’s prime contractor, EADS Astrium.

Saft’s Li-ion batteries serve in a wide variety of applications on the
ground. Saft’s lithium technology has also been selected for the next-
generation F-35 (JSF, or Joint Strike Fighter) jet, for which Lockheed Martin
is the prime contractor. And Saft’s nickel-hydrogen batteries have a proven
track record in GEO service. But this is the first time that a GEO satellite
will benefit from Saft’s lower-weight, smaller-volume Li-ion batteries.

As GEO satellites fly in an orbit 36,000 km (about 21,000 miles) above the
Earth, launch weight and mass are critical factors. By reducing battery
weight and space on EADS Astrium’s Eurostar E3000 platform, Saft enables
Eutelsat to add more revenue-generating transponders to the payload. In
January, Astrium signed a contract with Saft for Li-ion batteries for HotBird
8, another spacecraft in the Eutelsat series. It adds to the list of Li-ion
satellite programs that Saft will be working on with Astrium and builds upon
the industry’s confidence in Saft’s technology.

15-year service life

Weighing 4,250 kg at launch, W3A will provide a full range of services in
the Ku and Ka bands, including enterprise links, Internet service and
television broadcast. Users in W3A’s footprint range across Europe, Africa
and the Middle East.

W3A’s battery is made of Saft’s Li-Ion VES 140 cells, which are
manufactured in Saft’s plant in Bordeaux, France, and assembled into modules
and tested at Saft’s facility in Poitiers, France. The batteries, as the
payload itself, are designed to perform throughout the 15-year service
lifetime of the satellite. In fact, this performance requirement is regularly
exceeded, even in the tough environment of space.

Like other satellites, the W3A will use its batteries only when it is
hidden from the Sun by the Earth. The rest of the time, it will rely on solar
panels for electric power of 9,600 watts (DC), even at its end of life.

First of many

Although the lifetime of GEO satellites has often exceeded their owners’
expectations, resulting in longer revenue streams, they do eventually succumb
to the hardships of service in space. The preferred strategic orbits around
the Equator are currently full of GEOs that are working successfully for a
wide range of owners and operators around the planet.

As the current fleets of GEO satellites are renewed, Saft’s lithium-ion
batteries remain ready to serve their mission-critical assignment of ensuring
reliable performance even in this extremely harsh environment at the same time
as they lighten the weight and reduce the volume that batteries need on the
payload’s platform. W3A is the first of many GEOs that Saft’s lithium-ion
batteries will fly on. Saft currently has contracts for 13 satellites with
lithium-ion batteries.

Service-rich space power: With Saft’s rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
on board, Eutelsat’s W3A will deliver a new, broader range of telecoms and
broadcast services from its strategic GEO position at 7 degrees East over the

More about Eutelsat: With capacity commercialized on satellites that
provide coverage from the Americas to Far East Asia, Eutelsat is one of the
world’s leading satellite operators. This satellite infrastructure gives the
company the flexibility to offer direct-to-home broadcasting, video
distribution and contribution services, corporate network solutions,
positioning and communications services for mobile users and a portfolio of IP
applications which include broadband Internet access and Internet backbone
connections. Eutelsat has developed a range of turnkey broadband products (D-
STAR, D-SAT, OPENSKYT) for local communities, SMEs, SoHos and consumers beyond
ADSL access. Eutelsat’s satellites broadcast more than 1,400 TV and 700 radio
stations to an audience of 110 million cable and satellite homes.

More about EADS Astrium: EADS Astrium is Europe’s leading satellite
company. Its activities cover complete civil and military telecommunications
and Earth observation systems, science and navigation programs, and all
spacecraft and avionics and equipment. EADS Astrium is wholly owned by EADS
Space. In 2002, EADS Space had sales of $2.2 billion and 12,300 employees in
France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain.

More about SAFT: As the worldwide leader in the industry, Saft’s self-
contained energy solutions range from portable sources to industrial and
advanced technology battery systems. Saft has been recognized for its
demonstrated excellence in environmental management by Frost & Sullivan with
the 2003 Battery Recycling Service Leadership Award. Saft’s Advanced Battery
Systems Division, in Cockeysville, Md., is the premier supplier and developer
of high performance battery systems for military, space and the automotive
markets. Additional information is available at

SpaceRef staff editor.