Ball Aerospace Green Propellant Infusion Mission to Host Three DOD Space Experiments

Image Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

Image Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

October 16, 2014 – The NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will fly three Defense Department experimental hosted payloads aboard the when it launches in 2016. GPIM’s mission will validate a non-toxic fuel for future satellite missions, which could replace hydrazine and provide additional performance benefits.

The Department of Defense (DOD) Space Experiments Review Board (SERB) selected the three payloads to fly on GPIM. The SERB chooses experiments based on a high potential to provide new or enhanced warfighting capabilities for the DOD.

“This cooperative effort is an outstanding example of government organizations working with industry to solve technology challenges,” said Jim Oschmann, vice president and general manager for Ball’s Civil Space and Technologies business unit.

The GPIM recently completed spacecraft is based on the successful STPSat-2 and STPSat-3 satellites built for the U.S. Air Force. Two of the three SERB payloads selected to fly aboard GPIM previously flew on STPSat-3, which launched in 2013. This is the third time Ball has integrated SERB payloads to small spacecraft bus platforms. Ball’s series of small satellites are designed to host a minimum of four independent payloads.

“The GPIM spacecraft capitalizes on Ball’s experience with STPSat-3 to maximize the reuse of engineering and minimize risk in the development timeline,” said Oschmann.

In addition to the primary GPIM payload being developed at Aerojet Rocketdyne, the three DOD payloads selected to fly aboard the project include:

  • Integrated Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer Reflight (iMESA-R), a U.S. Air Force Academy mission designed to measure plasma densities and temperatures.

  • Small Wind and Temperature Spectrometer (SWATS), a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) mission to provide in-situ, co-located measurements of the atmospheric neutral and ion density, composition, temperature, and winds on a global scale.

  • Space Object Self-tracker (SOS), a pathfinder experiment built by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) to decrease space collisions.

  • The integration contract is valued at $3.4 million and extends the mission duration of GPIM from two months to a year.

    GPIM is a technology demonstration mission managed by the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA. Ball is leading the on-orbit test of a new Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate propellant blend, AF-M315E, developed by U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base.

    As the prime contractor and principal investigator, Ball collaborates with a team of co-investigators from Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA Glenn Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, with additional mission support from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base on the GPIM project.