Ball Aerospace, a division of Broomfield-based Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL), has completed on-orbit testing of NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission onboard a Ball-built small satellite.
NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission components — a small satellite propelled by a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel blend known as ASCENT — was sent into space in June 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
“The successful completion of this mission advances in-space propulsion for the entire user community, which opens up the possibility for a variety of missions,” Ball civil space vice president Makenzie Lystrup said in a prepared statement. “GPIM has the potential to inspire new ideas and new missions, which could mean smaller spacecraft, faster and easier ground processing, longer design lives and more — enabling science at any scale.”
The propellant chemicals used in the Green Propellant Infusion Mission system are safer for humans to handle and store than traditional highly toxic hydrazine rocket fuel. The GPIM is the first time NASA has demonstrated the use of alternative fuels.
GPIM will soon begin a final series of burns that will deplete the remainder of the ASCENT fuel and the spacecraft will reenter the earth’s atmosphere to complete the mission, according to a Ball news release.
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