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NASA looks beyond batteries for space exploration

NASA is seeking proposals for the development of new, more capable, energy storage technologies to replace the battery technology that has long powered the US space program.

The core technologies solicited in the call for proposals will advance energy storage solutions for the space program and other government agencies, such as the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) through ongoing collaboration with NASA and industry.

Over the next 18 months, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate will make significant new investments that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration. One of these challenges, advanced energy storage, offers new technology solutions that will address exploration and science needs while adding in an important and substantive way to America’s innovation economy.

—Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology at NASA Headquarters

NASA’s solicitation has two category areas:

  • “High Specific Energy System Level Concepts,” which will focus on cell chemistry and system level battery technologies, such as packaging and cell integration; and
  • “Very High Specific Energy Devices,” which will focus on energy storage technologies that can go beyond the current theoretical limits of Lithium batteries while maintaining the cycle life and safety characteristics demanded of energy storage systems used in space applications.

Proposals will be accepted from NASA centers and other government agencies, federally funded research and development centers, educational institutions, industry and nonprofit organizations. NASA expects to make approximately four awards for Phase I of the solicitation, ranging in value up to $250,000 each.



Biological structure batteries with 10X the performance of Lithium batteries may be one of the potential candidate?


I thought NASA bought into that whole E-Cat thing? Weren't they going to use that for space programs?

Roger Pham

Solid-state thermoelectric generator is the key. Need to improve a lot on efficiency, though. Solar energy and Micro nuclear reactor (for use when far away from the sun) can supply the heat. Solid-state battery, H2 and PEM-FC, and UltraCapacitor can serve as buffer for high-current but sporadic consumption.

More important for NASA is to drastically reduce the cost of launching per pound of payload into orbit. Then, component weight of space craft won't be that critical when NASA can launch stuffs into orbit for cheap! Re-usable space plane probably is the key to cut cost.

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