Ball Aerospace small satellite for NASA arrives in Florida for launch
(20 May 2019 - Ball Aerospace) The Ball Aerospace-built small spacecraft for NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) arrived in Florida today to prepare for a June launch on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
GPIM is NASA's first opportunity to demonstrate a new "green" propellant and propulsion system in orbit – an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems.
A sustainable and efficient approach to spaceflight, GPIM will demonstrate the practical capabilities of a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel and oxidizer blend, called AF-M315E. This innovative, low toxicity, "green" propellant was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory. GPIM is part of NASA's Technology Demonstration Missions program within the Space Technology Mission Directorate.
Ball Aerospace engineer works on GPIM, a small satellite built for NASA, during solar array deployment (courtesy: Ball Aerospace)
NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission small satellite, built by Ball Aerospace, underwent environmental testing at Ball’s Boulder facility (courtesy: Ball Aerospace)
"GPIM was a truly collaborative effort, working with our partners - NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Air Force Research Laboratory, U.S. Air Force and SpaceX," said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, vice president and general manager, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace. "We are proud to be part of this historic mission to test a new 'green' propellant on board Ball's flight-proven small satellite, helping to provide science at any scale."
Ball Aerospace is responsible for system engineering; flight thruster performance verification; ground and flight data review; spacecraft bus; assembly, integration and test; and launch and flight support. The GPIM bus uses the smallest of the Ball Configurable Platform (BCP) satellites, which is about the size of a mini refrigerator, and was built in just 46 days. The BCP provides standard payload interfaces and streamlined procedures, allowing rapid and affordable access to space with flight-proven performance.
"We have shown that Ball can provide small, fast and affordable solutions with excellent performance and now we're excited to do that for NASA," Lystrup said.
There are currently two BCP small satellites performing on orbit: STPSat-2, which launched in Nov. 2010, and STPSat-3, which launched in Nov. 2013. The two STP satellites were built for the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program's Standard Interface Vehicle (STP-SIV) project. Ball also has two BCP small satellites in development for NASA's Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) and Spectro Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) missions.
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Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) supplies innovative, sustainable packaging solutions for beverage, personal care and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 17,500 people worldwide and reported 2018 net sales of $11.6 billion.