Skip to main content
65 votes

Why aren't batteries used in space?

Energy density for: NiMH C battery -> 237,073 Joules per Kilogram. Plutonium 238 (used in RTGs) -> 2,239,000,000,000 Joules per Kilogram. Even if we assume that only 10% of a RTG weight is actually ...
m.fuss's user avatar
  • 1,249
51 votes
Accepted

Why exactly do robots freeze? How could we engineer around it?

There are many things that change at low temperatures. You already mentioned batteries, which are problematic for two reasons: First, liquid electrolytes get frozen at some point. Second, chemical ...
asdfex's user avatar
  • 15.1k
50 votes
Accepted

What was ejected from RocketLab's Electron launch vehicle at T+6:25 during stage two burn?

I’ve continued to do a bit of research on this, and what we’re seeing falling away are two of the lithium-ion battery packs that power the Rutherford engine turbopumps. The Rutherford engine is ...
marked-down's user avatar
  • 8,961
28 votes
Accepted

Rocket flywheel instead of battery/generator (crazy idea)?

A flywheel is so efficient because it is big and heavy, both of which you don't want to add to a spacecraft. As for spinning an existing component, the only parts of a rocket that really have any ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 19.1k
26 votes
Accepted

Are lithium batteries allowed in the International Space Station?

The station used to be powered by nickel-hydrogen (Ni-H$_2$) but with the onset of a new generation of more efficient lithium batteries, it began swapping out its older counterpart ever since 2017, by ...
William R. Ebenezer's user avatar
24 votes

Why exactly do robots freeze? How could we engineer around it?

Purely based on an operational standpoint of semiconductive devices, equivalent resistances are considerably higher at low temperatures, and thus any calibrated circuit or component, including Rcomps, ...
FluffyFlareon's user avatar
19 votes

Why aren't batteries used in space?

RTGs are used in a very small number of spacecraft. They are used only when there are no other options, i.e. for long missions too far away from the Sun to make solar panels feasible. Those missions ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
17 votes

Why exactly do robots freeze? How could we engineer around it?

The main obstacle is the existence of liquids. Liquid phase is quite "fragile" and in contrast with gases and solids, exist in pretty narrow conditions. Without a liquid phase, a lot of ...
fraxinus's user avatar
  • 2,519
16 votes

Why aren't batteries used in space?

Nuclear decay is just simply the most energy dense fuel there is. This is enough to overcome huge inefficiencies in power conversion. We can even ignore the inefficiencies of alternate storage methods,...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 691
13 votes

Is the risk of explosion-induced damage to operational spacecraft in GEO actually reduced substantially by raising Spaceway-1 by 300 km?

Apparently the battery is only prone to explode while used. So when turning the satellite off, the risk appears to be mitigated sufficiently (I expect the battery to be discharged. A battery storing ...
Infrisios's user avatar
  • 894
12 votes

Rocket flywheel instead of battery/generator (crazy idea)?

In principle, this should be possible. The question is, is it practical? An example flywheel used in car racing (i.e. a high-performance, cost-no-object application) weighs 18 kg and stores 400 kJ = ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
12 votes

Are lithium batteries allowed in the International Space Station?

I know from personal experience, it’s hard to get hardware with a Lithium battery to the ISS. There is a large research effort at NASA to make a Lithium battery that does not have runaway ...
CourageousPotato's user avatar
9 votes

How much silver was left on the Moon by Apollo Lunar Modules?

TL;DR: 612kg Well, as an approximate lower bound you can use the listed amp-hours of capacity and the battery chemistry to determine how many atoms of silver would be needed. To produce one amp-hour ...
IronEagle's user avatar
  • 965
7 votes

Why aren't batteries used in space?

Simply put, RTGs last a long time. Space probes need a reliable, long-lasting power source, since we can't just change the batteries when they run out. An RTG can run for decades with relatively ...
Nuclear Hoagie's user avatar
7 votes

Do Phonesats and GoPros work with their internal batteries in space vacuum?

I think a short answer would be yes, but with caveats. Many GoPros have been flown on high-altitude balloons to near-space and in close to vacuum conditions, using completely COTS assemblies (and ...
mothman's user avatar
  • 968
6 votes
Accepted

Why can't the VIPER lunar rover recharge its 100-day power source using its solar panels?

An abstract for the "An Overview of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) Mission" talk, scheduled to be given in December at AGU, states VIPER is a solar and battery ...
Erin Anne's user avatar
  • 11.5k
6 votes
Accepted

How many "main" batteries does the ISS have? How many are still nickel-hydrogen?

Each of the eight power channels originally shipped with six Nickel-Hydrogen Battery ORUs (Orbital Replacement Units), making 48 battery ORUs. These are gradually being replaced with Lithium Ion ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 17.3k
6 votes

Are the ejected first stage Electron rocket batteries really incinerated?

The question turns out to be a bit misguided as the first stage batteries are not ejected during flight; however, it can still be answered no. Spaceflight 101's quality can be mediocre at times. I ...
BrendanLuke15's user avatar
6 votes

Can Li-ion batteries replace parts of the physical structure of a spacecraft, such as the hull of a crewed spaceship?

The biggest argument against this is thermal control. Batteries are one of the most thermally sensitive components of spacecraft, and normally require careful thermal design to make sure they stay in ...
kert's user avatar
  • 1,320
5 votes
Accepted

How much wax is on the Moon? (Lunar Roving Vehicles)

The LRV Manual states that 3.5 lb (1.59 kg) of octadecane wax was used for the Drive Controller Electronics (DCE) and 2.25 lb (1.02 kg) of eicosane wax was used for the Signal Processing Unit (SPU) . ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 13.1k
5 votes

How much wax is on the Moon? (Lunar Roving Vehicles)

Looking here the mass is shown as 2.25lbs. They list motor and battery temperature sensors, backed up by information elsewhere on what sensors made it onto the rover instrument cluster but that would ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Are LiPo batteries more suitable for 1st stage electric power than Li-ion batteries?

Lithium-polymer batteries are a subtype of lithium-ion batteries, distinguished by using a solid polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid. The polymer electrolyte performs somewhat worse than the ...
Christopher James Huff's user avatar
4 votes

Rocket flywheel instead of battery/generator (crazy idea)?

The other answerers have failed to do their research correctly. NASA and China are both researching this. The idea is it helps increase the life of the battery on board since there are less charge ...
UKMonkey's user avatar
  • 163
4 votes
Accepted

What type of battery technology does Mars Odyssey use?

The NASA Odyssey Launch Press Kit has a bunch of info, including the electrical power system. It seems to have a nickel-hydrogen battery. Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries have the "distinctive virtue ......
rickhg12hs's user avatar
4 votes

JWST - batteries?

Yes, the JWST has rechargeable batteries, they are recharged from the solar panels. Using non rechargeable chemical batteries would not make sense. The rechargeable batteries of JWST are the lithium-...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 49k
4 votes
Accepted

Would Li-Ion batteries for a lunar base energy storage system be transported to the base charged or uncharged?

Lithium-ion batteries have a minimum safe charge, so they would not be stored or transported entirely discharged. They degrade faster and are more hazardous to transport and handle when fully charged, ...
Christopher James Huff's user avatar
3 votes

Most efficient method of storing energy with water on the moon?

Method one is used currently on this planet. Pumps move water to a reservoir when electricity rates are lowest and demand is low, absorbing generator excess power. When the grid requires additional ...
fred_dot_u's user avatar
  • 1,965
3 votes

How many discharge cycles do ISS and other LEO satellites withstand? What specific things are done to make this possible?

Partial answer - addressing the questions about managing the system for the ISS tl;dr it's done manually by the ground If the Primary Power System batteries are not discharged, they can overcharge, ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
3 votes

What is the mass of the Electron rocket's battery pack?

Apparently the whole engine weighs 35kg so 35Kg-20Kg = 15kg. Though the battery is for all engines so 135Kg. Based on those numbers I'm sure it's not a standard rechargeable lithium cell. It would be ...
Slartibartfast's user avatar

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible