Advanced batteries are required for future space missions. These uses include batteries for astronaut equipment and EVA suits, crew exploration vehicles, in-space habitats, surface habitats, humanoid robots, landers, ISRU, ISS astronaut equipment, life support systems, and photovoltaic energy storage. Science Mission Directive missions include planetary probes, landers, rovers, and orbiters, all which require high energy, safe batteries. Advanced batteries with 2-3 X performance capability are required and will enable a number of future NASA space missions listed above. Successfully deployed safe lithium-sulfur batteries would result in significant mass savings and operational flexibility. Initial NASA space-based applications include space suit power and EVA applications which will be supported by ILC Dover. Additional NASA applications such as satellites will be supported by Lockheed Martin. Non-space applications within NASA include Unmanned Aerial Systems, and other electric flight programs, which will also be supported by Lockheed Martin.
This project can provide an opportunity for the widespread adoption of high energy, safe Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries in the consumer, automotive vehicles and grid energy storage market. Li-Sulfur batteries have a theoretical storage capacity of 2.3 kW/kg and offer one of the highest theoretical energy densities among rechargeable batteries and can yield a dramatic 3-4x reduction in weight, size, and cost to present day Li-ion batteries. Non-NASA commercial applications will also include UAS platforms, such as the Desert Hawk from Lockheed Martin, and others. As battery lifetimes are increased to match and exceed current Li-ion technology, then larger commercial applications such as electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems will be addressable with this technology. In particular, the increased safety of the Li-S technology will be attractive to the commercial aviation industry which has suffered from catastrophic failures of Li-ion batteries in recent years.