Green Propellant Infusion Mission Project Turns Up The Heat

Image Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

Image Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

June 19, 2015 – On June 3, members of the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) project completed the fourth hot-fire acceptance test on a 1 Newton thruster at Aeroject Rocketdyne’s Facility in Redmond, Washington.

NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado, are collaborating on the Green Propellant Infusion Mission, which seeks to improve overall propellant efficiency while reducing the toxic handling concerns associated with the highly toxic fuel, hydrazine.

NASA is looking for ways to replace hydrazine with a more environmentally friendly fuel and thrusters propelled by this green propellants formulation could provide better performance without all the toxic chemical characteristics. GPIM is developing a high-performance, high-efficiency alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems for next-generation spacecraft.

The new green propellant will be an enabling technology for commercial spaceports operating across the U.S. permitting safer, faster and much less costly launch vehicle and spacecraft fuel loading operations. The “shirt sleeve” operational environment GPIM offers will change ground processing time from weeks to days. Building and operating satellites will be simplified.

The space technology infusion mission also strives to optimize performance in new hardware, system and power solutions while ensuring the best value for investment and the safest space missions possible. The Green Propellant Infusion Mission is scheduled to launch in mid 2016.

Ball Aerospace is building the spacecraft that will demonstrate the Green Propellant Infusion Mission. 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.