NASA, the US space agency, has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne to help mature the development of an MPS-130 CubeSat modular propulsion system using a green propellant known as AF-M315E.
Once fully developed, the technology would not only increase in-space CubeSat mission capabilities, but would also provide a safer, more efficient and higher performance alternative than traditional hydrazine propellants.
Under the terms of this public-private partnership, Aerojet Rocketdyne will deliver a fully integrated MPS-130 green propulsion system for flight demonstration, as well as conduct development and validation testing.
Eileen Drake, CEO and president of Aerojet Rocketdyne, said the MPS-130 green propulsion system will allow CubeSats and nanosats to increase their capabilities similar to those of much larger satellites.
She said these improvements will allow for extending mission life, increasing architecture resiliency, manoeuvring to higher and lower orbits, and performing complex proximity operations and formation flying.
“We’re excited about this partnership with NASA to advance CubeSat propulsion with green propellants,” Ms Drake said.
“There’s no doubt it will open exciting new doors in the private and public sectors for those seeking to increase the capability of nanosats and operate them more affordably and efficiently, and with safer propellants.”
Aerojet was selected for this project under NASA’s “Utilising Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies” solicitation, which seeks to mature technologies beyond their “tipping point.”
NASA said the goal was to enable private industry to develop and qualify the technologies for market, stimulating the commercial space industry while delivering technologies and capabilities needed for future missions and commercial applications.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings and specialises in delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defence markets.
The company is a renowned aerospace and defence leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defence and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets.