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The fuel cell in space: Yesterday, today and tomorrowThe past, present, and future of space fuel cell power systems is reviewed, starting with the first practical fuel cell by F.T. Bacon which led to the 1.5 kW Apollo alkaline fuel cell. However, the first fuel cell to be used for space power was the Gemini 1.0 kW Acid IEM fuel cell. The successor to the Apollo fuel cell is today's 12 kW Orbiter alkaline fuel cell whose technology is considerably different and considerably better than that of its ancestor, the Bacon cell. And in terms of specific weight there has been a steady improvement from the past to the present, from the close to 200 lb/kW of Apollo to the 20 lb/kW of the orbiter. For NASA future Lunar and Martian surface power requirements the regenerative fuel cell (RFC) energy storage system is enabling technology, with the alkaline and the PEM the leading RFC candidate systems. The U.S. Air Force continues to support fuel cell high power density technology development for its future short duration applications.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Warshay, Marvin
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Prokopius, Paul R.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
September 1, 1989
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:102366
Meeting Information
Meeting: Grove Anniversary (1839-1989) Fuel Cell Symposium
Location: London
Start Date: September 18, 1989
End Date: September 21, 1989
Sponsors: Royal Institution
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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