Phase Four Wins U.S. Space Force Contract at SpaceWERX Pitch Day

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Phase Four PR) — Phase Four, the creator of the radio-frequency thruster for satellite propulsion, announced today that it has secured a contract with the U.S. Space Force at the SpaceWERX Pitch Day held on August 18th, 2021 for the company’s propellant-agnostic Maxwell engine. Under the contract, Maxwell will utilize ASCENT, a green propellant developed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, to enable multi-mode propulsion capability, which combines the high thrust capabilities of chemical propulsion and the high efficiency capabilities of electric propulsion.

“Space is rapidly becoming congested and contested,” said Phase Four CEO, Beau Jarvis.  “The U.S. Space Force and commercial satellite operators must increase the maneuverability of their spacecraft to operate safely and minimize on orbit risks.”

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Benchmark and Starfish Space Team to Enable Precision On-Orbit Services

Tanker 1 satellite. (Credit: Orbit Fab)

Duo testing Starfish CEPHALOPOD RPOD software with Benchmark’s Halcyon thruster powering first-ever Orbit Fab tanker maneuvers in space

BURLINGTON, Vt. and KENT, Wash., May 18, 2021 – The future of the space economy relies heavily on servicing infrastructure and vehicles that can make precision maneuvers to successfully approach, inspect and dock with spacecraft in need of refueling, maintenance and a wide range of on-orbit services.

Starfish Space, a satellite servicing company, and Benchmark Space Systems, a leading provider of in-space mobility systems and services, today announced a strategic collaboration to advance precision on-orbit refueling and docking capabilities, beginning with demonstrations during Orbit Fab’s Tanker 1 mission launching next month aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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DLR Creates the Rocket Fuel of the Future

3D printed research combustion chamber (Credit: DLR)
  • Two advanced “green” fuels have been successfully tested to replace hydrazine.
  • State-of-the-art laboratory and analysis techniques in the physical-chemical laboratory form the cornerstone of future fuel technologies.
  • 3D-printed combustion chamber compatible with “green” fuels.

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sustainability and environmental compatibility are also increasingly important standards in space travel. To achieve this, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Lampoldshausen are developing fuels for next-generation space applications. The focus is on application-relevant properties such as improving environmental compatibility, safety, behavior at different temperatures and reducing fuel costs. 

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ESA Explores Greener Way to Get Satellites Moving

A sustained test firing of a ‘green’ satellite thruster at Poland’s Institute of Aviation. (Credit: IIA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A sustained test firing of a ‘green’ satellite thruster at Poland’s Institute of Aviation, intended as a future alternative to today’s hydrazine-based apogee engines, typically used by telecommunication satellites to manoeuvre into their final geostationary orbits.

Today hydrazine is the most common propellant employed by thrusters aboard satellites: it is highly energetic in nature but also toxic and corrosive, as well as dangerous to handle and store.

ESA initiated the Green Liquid Apogee Engine for Future Spacecraft project, GRACE, to evaluate more environmentally friendly thruster options, with testing culminating in a sustained 60-second thruster firing.

GRACE assessed various options, finding the most effective bipropellant combination used ‘high test peroxide’ (HTP) as oxidiser – a much purer version of the same chemical used to bleach hair, which is split into oxygen and water steam using a catalyst – plus TMPDA fuel.

This was a nearly all-Polish project, supported through ESA’s Polish Industry Incentive. Poland’s Institute of Aviation oversaw management, design and testing, with Jakusz providing the HTP, WB Electronics, represented by Flytronic manufacturing most thruster components. Thales Alenia Space in the UK provided requirements and guidelines for design and testing – including the provision of a 500 Newton kerosene-powered thruster, used as a model for the GRACE demonstrator.

“The programme successfully demonstrated a robust catalyst bed capable of sustaining a minute’s continuous firing,” notes ESA propulsion engineer Ferran Valencia Bel.

”GRACE’s success demonstrates Poland’s technical excellence in the area of rocket propulsion, part of a larger ESA effort to put the space industry onto a more sustainable footing, finding non-toxic alternatives to legacy chemicals and materials.” 

ESA Studies Green Satellite Propellants

Candidate ‘green’ satellite propellants within a temperature-controlled incubator, undergoing heating as a way to simulate the speeding up of time. (Credit: European Astrotech Ltd.)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today hydrazine is the most common propellant employed by thrusters aboard satellites: it is highly energetic in nature but also toxic and corrosive, as well as dangerous to handle and store. ESA initiated a study with European Astrotech Ltd in the UK to look into greener propellants and propulsion systems, to provide comparable performance with reduced toxicity and handling costs.

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Hiber Four Satellite in Space With Green CubeSat Propulsion Launched on SpaceX Rocket

Evaluation of a test Hiber nanosatellite took place in ESA’s metal-walled Hybrid European Radio Frequency and Antenna Test Zone (Hertz) at the Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands, shut off from all external influences for radio testing.  (Credit: ESA–G. Porter)

DELFT, The Netherlands, 25 January 2021 (Dawn Aerospace PR) — IoT solutions provider Hiber has successfully launched their 3U CubeSat, Hiber Four, onboard SpaceX’s dedicated rideshare mission: Transporter-1. The satellite was equipped with a new-to-market green propulsion system from Dawn Aerospace and Hyperion Technologies.

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NASA Selects 19 Small Business Tech Transfer Projects for Further Funding

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 19 proposals from 17 U.S. small businesses for a total of more than $14 million in follow-on funding through the agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The awards will help advance NASA priorities such as the Artemis program and other initiatives in aeronautics, human exploration and operations, science, and space technology. 

NASA’s STTR program is open to small businesses partnering with U.S. research institutions to develop an innovation or technology. The partnering component distinguishes STTR from its sister program, NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). 

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A Look at the Payloads in Falcon Heavy’s STP-2 Mission

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), is targeting launch on June 24, 2019, with the launch window opening at 11:30 p.m. ET. Lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this mission will deliver 24 satellites to space on the DoD’s first ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.

The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, a final propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours. In addition, the U.S. Air Force plans to reuse side boosters from the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy launch, recovered after a return to launch site landing, making it the first reused Falcon Heavy ever flown for the U.S. Air Force.
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NASA Spacecraft to use ‘Green’ Fuel for the First Time

A Ball Aerospace engineer adjusts the thermal insulation on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft bus following integration of the propulsion system. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — A non-toxic, rosé-colored liquid could fuel the future in space and propel missions to the Moon or other worlds. NASA will test the fuel and compatible propulsion system in space for the first time with the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), set to launch this month on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

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Ball Aerospace’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission Satellite Arrives in Florida

A Ball Aerospace engineer adjusts the thermal insulation on NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft bus following integration of the propulsion system. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

BOULDER, Colo., May 20, 2019 (Ball Aerospace PR) — 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.

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USAF Research Laboratory Licenses Green Propellant to Digital Solid State Propulsion

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – A recently signed Air Force Research Laboratory patent licensing agreement will enable commercialization of a green alternative to hydrazine for spacecraft propulsion.

The AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ) signed a patent license agreement with Digital Solid State Propulsion Inc., a small business located in Reno, Nevada.  Under the agreement, the company will produce and sell the Air Force developed monopropellant, AF-M315E. The PLA was coupled with a cooperative research and development agreement that allows AFRL scientists to collaborate with the company to provide technical knowledge and advice.

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NASA Selects CubeSat & NanoSat Proposals for SBIR & STTR Awards

Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. (Credit: NASA)
Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected at at least 28 proposals involving Cube-, nano- and micro-sats for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I awards.

The total includes 23 SBIR and five STTR projects. Companies are partnered with university researchers for the STTR awards.

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