Ball Aerospace commissions NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission

Ball Aerospace commissions NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission

Ball Aerospace has officially commissioned NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) and begun on-orbit testing of a non-toxic, high-performance propellant on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Ball Aerospace commissions NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission

Ball Aerospace has officially commissioned NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) and begun on-orbit testing of a non-toxic, high-performance propellant on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. 

Ball designed and built the small satellite, which contains NASA's first demonstration of the practical capabilities of a "green" propellant and propulsion system in orbit – an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems. The propellant, called AF-M315E, is a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel and oxidizer monopropellant developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

GPIM is part of NASA's Technology Demonstration Missions programme within the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

Over the next thirteen months, Ball Aerospace and its partners will test the thruster capabilities by verifying the propulsion subsystem, propellant performance, thruster performance and spacecraft attitude control performance.

The primary mission of testing the thrusters and fuel will be complete within three months followed by testing of the secondary science payloads.

"We are excited for the opportunity to advance in-space propulsion for the entire user community, which has the potential to propel space industry mission planning into a new era," said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, vice president and general manager, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace. "This mission has been an excellent example of an industry-led team involving multiple NASA centres, the Air Force and industry partners to test this new high-performance fuel using a Ball small satellite."

"The successful commissioning of our thrusters and propulsion system is a positive step toward fully qualifying our green propulsion system in space," said Joe Cassady, executive director of space at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "This technology will enable propulsive capabilities for a new generation of small satellites, including new mission capabilities."

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