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GPIM’s Green Propulsion System Shipped to Ball Aerospace

By Caleb Henry | August 20, 2015
      GPIM satellite Ball Aerospace

      GPIM satellite. Photo: Ball Aerospace

      [Via Satellite 08-20-2015] Aerojet Rocketdyne has delivered the environmentally friendly propellant propulsion subsystem to Ball Aerospace for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM). Ball Aerospace, prime contractor for GPIM, will integrate the propulsion subsystem, consisting of a propellant tank and five 1-newton thrusters, into its BCP 100 spacecraft bus.

      NASA’s GPIM satellite is an experimental mission to test the new non-toxic fuel AF-M315E. Because AF-M315E burns hotter than hydrazine, the propulsion system required new metals to withstand higher temperatures in the thrusters.

      Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, the new propellant is safer to handle and offers a 50 percent increase in density-Isp (Specific Impulse), compared to the conventional chemical propulsion systems, such as hydrazine.

      “This is a critical milestone for the GPIM program that will be a game-changer for how we travel in and through space,” said Jim Oschmann, vice president and general manager of civil space and technology at Ball Aerospace. “This new technology offers longer mission durations, additional maneuverability, increased payload space, and simplified launch processing for future spacecraft.”

      GPIM is scheduled to launch in 2016 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.