The pressure to "go green" will soon pass out of our horizon and into space.
From NASA Green Thruster Infusion Mission (GPIM) is scheduled to launch on June 24 on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of a mission test technology called STP-2. GPIM, a small box-shaped spacecraft using green technology, will test a low toxicity propellant in space for the first time, according to NASA. The clean propellant, a fuel / oxidant mixture based on hydroxylammonium nitrate called AF-M315E, will provide an alternative to hydrazine, a highly toxic compound used in rocket fuels to propel satellites and vessels space.
"It is important to develop technology that enhances the protections offered to launch personnel and the environment, and that can potentially reduce costs," said Steve Jurczyk, Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate. from NASA. said in a statement.
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GPIM, which cost NASA $ 65 million, has been in preparation for years and passed his first thruster heartbeat test in 2013. This month marks a new milestone in achieving the agency's goal of providing a sustainable and efficient alternative fuel for spaceflight.
At the moment, most spacecraft work with hydrazine, but NASA's new fuel is nearly 50% more efficient and promising longer missions using less thruster.
The fuel also has a higher density, which means that it can be stored in larger quantities in less space. Its freezing point is therefore lower and therefore requires less power from the satellite to maintain its temperature. NASA.
And compared to hydrazine, the fuel is much safer for humans. "It's mild enough, and we think it can be loaded at universities or in other environments where you do not usually conduct thruster loading operations," he said. Dayna Ise, head of the technology demonstration program at NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, during a press conference. Media call held June 7. "Oh, and you can send it through FedEx, so you can do it safely all over the country."
Ball Aerospace, spacecraft manufacturer of Colorado, collaborates with a subcontractor Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA scientists to develop a propulsion system for green fuel.
GPIM is one of NASA's four technology missions among the payloads of the STP-2 mission that a SpaceX Falcon Heavy is scheduled launch on June 24.