Aerojet and Ball Aerospace green propellant for spacecraft, such as this model from Virgin Galactic
SACRAMENTO, Calif., 17 Oct. 2012. Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, will demonstrate a monopropellant blend for spacecraft during the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) for NASA's Space Technology Program.
"NASA is seeking new, reduced-toxicity, high-performance green propellants as an alternative to hydrazine in order to make propellant handling safer for ground crews, as well as to reduce mission cost and enable new application opportunities," explains Marshall Cousineau, Aerojet vice president of advanced programs. "Aerojet recently achieved a significant technical breakthrough in our thruster technology that supports the GPIM project and offers a path to replace hydrazine for next-generation spacecraft."
Aerojet, under contract with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., will demonstrate the monopropellant technology, designed to provide improved performance, reduced toxicity, and simplified handling compared to hydrazine, a common spacecraft propellant.
AF-M315E, a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate (HAN) fuel/oxidizer blend developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), offers nearly 50 percent higher performance for a given propellant tank volume, compared to a standard hydrazine system, and can be mission-enabling for space-constrained satellites, says a spokesperson.
Ball Aerospace will have overall responsibility for the GPIM that builds on two decades of technology development funded by AFRL, NASA, and Aerojet. GPIM culminates with a demonstration mission and Aerojet will be responsible for leveraging previous development and test activities into thoroughly tested flight designs, integration of the rocket engine assemblies into a propulsion system, and supporting Ball throughout the fueling, launch, and flight phases.
Aerojet provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense, strategic, tactical missile, and armaments areas in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems.