NEO Tech has announced that six Lithium-Ion Battery Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs) that it assembled for Aerojet Rocketdyne were launched into space for the International Space Station on 9th December 2016, with the first three successfully installed in the International Space Station 6th January 2017.
The new battery cell used in the ORUs is a third-generation of Li-ion cell that is designed specifically for space.
In early 2014, NEO Tech invested in and expanded its Chatsworth facility to produce large-form-factor, high-reliability products for use in mission-critical applications like manned space flight. Aerojet Rocketdyne selected NEO Tech to be its manufacturing supplier on the Li-ion battery ORU program because NEO Tech offered a compelling manufacturing solution and was within close proximity to Aerojet Rocketdyne, enabling close collaboration and concurrent engineering to facilitate timely completion of the product for launch. The company also was able to develop a specialised selective soldering process to solve challenges with very large buss bar lamination. NEO Tech invested in the production infrastructure to build, inspect and test the ORU to meet stringent manned space flight requirements. NEO Tech processes were certified by Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA, including process certification of production personnel. Then the ORUs were delivered to Aerojet Rocketdyne for final acceptance testing before being delivered to the Boeing and NASA customer.
The Li-Ion ORUs were placed aboard Kounotori 6, an unpiloted HTV cargo carrier on top of the Japanese H-2B rocket, on a specially-designed pallet destined to carry the ORUs which will replace a portion of the International Space Station’s aging nickel-hydrogen batteries. The new batteries are lighter and more efficient – one lithium-ion unit is capable of replacing two of the old models. The first three units were successfully installed outside the space station’s right-side S4 power truss, one of the laboratory’s four main solar array modules. The installation was conducted during the first spacewalk of the New Year by NASA Astronauts. 18 additional batteries will be sent to the space station over the next four years.