NASA’s green rocket fuel set for major space test

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The green propulsion system will fly aboard a Ball Aerospace & Technologies Configurable Platform 100 satellite

Credit: NASA

NASA’s new green fuel may replace the highly toxic hydrazine propellant systems in-use today

NASA said today it would launch a spacecraft that would for the first time test fire green propellant technology in space.

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will use a small satellite using a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel/oxidizer mix, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, is also is known as AF-M315E propellant. This fuel may replace the highly toxic hydrazine and complex bi-propellant systems in-use today, NASA said.

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The green propulsion system will fly aboard a Ball Aerospace & Technologies Configurable Platform 100 satellite and is slated for launch on a Space X rocket in 2016.

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory the green propellant is less harmful to the environment, increases fuel efficiency, and diminishes operational hazards. The propellant offers nearly 50% higher performance for a given propellant tank volume compared to a conventional hydrazine system and will feature a catalyst technology, pioneered by Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA stated.

According to NASA: "Hydrazine is an efficient and ubiquitous propellant that can be stored for long periods of time, but is also highly corrosive and toxic. It is used extensively on commercial and defense department satellites as well as for NASA science and exploration missions. NASA is looking for an alternative that decreases environmental hazards and pollutants, has fewer operational hazards and shortens rocket launch processing times."

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