Under a deal from the Defense Innovation Unit, Lyten, which is a battery company based in California, possess prototyped an upgraded battery architecture for small satellites. Lyten was one of 12 businesses to submit bids in response to a DIU request for energy storage and management systems to increase the duty cycle of the small satellites, which was issued in January 2020.
In spring 2020, the company was awarded an “other transactions” contract, which is a type of contract utilized by DIU in which the contractor and the government both invest in the project. According to a company representative, Lyten was given a $1.1 million deal for the very first phase of this program, with a $4.5 million maximum contract value.
This contract allows DoD to utilize industry investments in the high-specific energy storage as well as advanced battery technology for the national security purposes, according to Steve “Bucky” Butow, director of DIU’s space portfolio, in a statement to SpaceNews on January 9. He noted that while most battery innovation is currently centered on electric vehicles and automotive applications, there is also an increasing demand in the aerospace sector.
One area of specific interest, according to Butow, is small satellites. “When DIU first joined the space sector, we rapidly realized that battery performance limited tiny satellite duty cycles. This is particularly true for the commercial SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellites, which were a key component of DIU’s early space portfolio.”
Lyten will present a lithium-sulfur battery system with DIU, which is projected to greatly boost the duty cycle of tiny satellites. “Doubling the charge density in a battery cell with the same mass and volume practically doubles the duty cycle,” Butow explained.
In a press statement dated January 6, Lyten stated that the business is working on a lithium-sulfur rechargeable battery with 3 times the energy storage capacity of conventional lithium-ion batteries. According to Shawn Black, Lyten’s president of government, aerospace, and defense, the company has prototyped three alternative battery types under the DIU contract, including pouch cells and cylinder cells.
“As ordered by the Space Systems Command,” Black stated, “the batteries are going to undergo a thorough level of testing.” “Our battery solution provides the DIU and the United States Space Force, with a tool that will allow them to employ smaller, lighter battery packs, better position them to use smaller spacecrafts, lower the overall cost of orbit, and maintain low Earth orbit activities during an eclipse.”