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Bradford Space, Neutron Star Systems to Cooperate on Orbital Transportation & Maneuvering Technology

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 24, 2021
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HEERLE, Netherlands (Bradford Space PR) — Bradford Space (Bradford) and Neutron Star Systems (NSS) established a cooperative agreement for enhanced orbital transport and maneuver technology for cis-lunar logistics. The agreement lays the foundation to increase the total propulsive capability of Bradford’s recently announced Space Logistics Service by incorporating NSS electric propulsion technology with Bradford’s green monopropellant technology.

The Bradford/NSS cooperation was fostered by a recent meeting at the United States Space Force and Air Force Research Laboratory Catalyst Accelerators Catalyst Collision event. The cooperation is founded on Bradford’s leadership in non-toxic propellant systems and the wide propellant flexibility of NSS’s SUPREMETM electric thruster. With growing concerns over the safety and cost of traditional Hydrazine propellant, the adoption of new green propellants will be critical for enabling safer and more sustainable space logistics. Bradford is the world leading provider of high thrust green propulsion systems with 25 spacecraft flying Bradford’s LMP-103S proprietary green monopropellant.

“We appreciate the Space Forces facilitating our meeting at the Catalyst Accelerator. The addition of an NSS propulsion system operating on LMP-103S enables hybrid chemical and electric missions with greater maneuverability than existing systems, said Ian Fichtenbaum, CEO of Bradford Space.

Cooperating with Bradford is a clear step forward following NSSs participation in the Catalyst Accelerators On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (OSAM) cohort. We have a firm determination to revolutionise the market and make it more sustainable, and we could not wish to find a better partner than Bradford Space to achieve this goal, said Manuel La Rosa Betancourt, CEO of NSS.

NSS SUPREMETM is an Applied-Field Magnetoplasmadynamic (AF-MPD) thruster that leverages industrially mature High-Temperature Superconductors (HTS) to create the magnetic fields to create a dense, high temperature plasma and generate thrust through crossed electrostatic and magnetic fields. The result is a low thrust and high fuel efficiency thruster that complements Bradford’s existing high thrust chemical thrusters.

The use of compact and lightweight HTS enables immense scalability over a wide range of power classes. Using a common green monopropellant enables the flexibility to select the ideal propulsion technology for each maneuver after launch. In addition, the use of a common propellant storage and delivery system reduces spacecraft mass compared with separate chemical and electric systems. The hybrid chemical and electric propulsion from a common propellant maximizes the value creating potential of a spacecraft.

The collaboration with NSS does provide a unique extension of our unprecedented non-toxic propulsion offering, especially for higher power and further emphasizing the capabilities of our proprietary HPGP technology, said Patrick van Put, Managing Director European Operations at Bradford Space.

Hybrid chemical-electric propulsion systems operating on shared propellant offer unparalleled manoeuvrability in a simple and lightweight form. Working together with Bradford Space, we hope to capitalise on the immense potential offered by this concept, said Marcus Collier-Wright, CTO of NSS.

Bradford recently announced their Space Logistics Service to deliver payloads from a drop-off facility on Earth to any destination between Earth and the Moon. To support the service, Bradford is designing a new spacecraft called Square Rocket which is an orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), or space tug. Square Rockets green propulsion and innovations in development and manufacturing result in a low cost, reproducible spacecraft with the flexibility to support a wide range of cis-lunar logistics missions.

We are developing low cost, high maneuverability space tugs and the cooperation with NSS has the potential to extend our range of capability, allowing us to provide increased value to our customers, said Christian Carpenter, Bradford’s Chief of Production and Advanced Systems.

As part of our efforts to improve standardisation and enable economies of scale in the space industry, we are delighted to work with Bradford Space. Their background and heritage on mass production of space components aligns strongly with our goals, said NSS COO Freddy Torres.

Bradford Space is a high-tech developer and manufacturer that has been innovating the space industry for over three decades. Bradford has over 35 years experience developing and manufacturing state-of-the-art in-orbit systems and components. Headquartered in New York City, and with operations in the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Seattle, Bradford builds high performance spacecraft propulsion systems, avionics, attitude orbit control systems, microgravity workspaces, and provides Space Logistics Services for missions beyond LEO.

Neutron Star Systems is a new-space start-up headquartered in Cologne, Germany, focused on the development of superconductor-based spacecraft systems. NSS core product is an Electric Propulsion system combining High-Temperature Superconductors with Applied-Field Magnetoplasmadynamic Thrusters, providing greater scalability, efficiency, and operational flexibility, and enabling more powerful and more capable spacecraft while cutting costs by up to billions of dollars. Alongside the German headquarters, NSS runs operations in London, UK, and Colorado Springs, USA.

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