by SAE International in United States
The alkaline fuel cell powerplant utilized in the Space Shuttle Orbiter has established an excellent performance and reliability record over the past decade. Recent AFC technology programs have demonstrated significant advances in cell durability and power density. These capabilities provide the basis for substantial improvement of the Orbiter powerplant, enabling new mission applications as well as enhancing performance in the Orbiter. Improved durability would extend the powerplant's time between overhaul fivefold, and permit longer-duration missions. The powerplant would also be a strong candidate for lunar/planetary surface power systems. Higher power capability would enable replacement of the Orbiter's auxiliary power units with electric motors, and benefits mass-critical applications such as the National AeroSpace Plane.
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