BlueStar Battery Systems International Corp. (Vancouver, BC) announced that its research and development subsidiary, BlueStar Advanced Technology Corp. (BATC), has been selected by a US Air Force/NASA consortium to develop battery technology for use in the next generation of planetary spacecraft. The 18-month contract is valued at CDN$2 million and will focus on the development of large, lightweight, rechargeable lithium-ion cells to be used in the Mars exploration space missions to be launched in 2001 and 2003. BlueStar will develop battery packs for use on the Mars Rover vehicles used in the missions, according to the company. BATC recently completed a CDN$4.5 million contract funded by the US Air Force and Canada's Department of National Defence which successfully demonstrated that lithium-ion cells could be scaled-up to sizes useful for spacecraft applications. BlueStar stated that its near-term commercial objective is to develop this technology for use in earth-orbiting communications satellites where, it claims, the superior energy content of these batteries will result in multi-million dollar savings in launch costs. The longer-term goal is to adapt the technology to higher volume terrestrial applications, such as electric vehicles and standby power systems."The US Air Force and NASA contract will provide an early opportunity to demonstrate our product and technology in space and will considerably accelerate the acceptance of this technology by the aerospace community," stated BATC President Lynn Marcoux. "Furthermore, the contract and alliance with this aerospace consortium for the development of these large rechargeable lithium cells will complement the work which we are jointly pursuing with a major commercial spacecraft manufacturer."