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Satnews Daily
January 15th, 2013

ECAPS’ First U.S. Commercial Contract...No Athletic Stadium Has A Skybox This High!

[SatNews] “This propulsion system will provide our spacecraft nearly twice the on-orbit delta-V of the more traditional monopropellant systems.”

ECAPS, an SSC Group company, today announced its first commercial flight contract in the U.S., with Skybox Imaging (Skybox), an emerging provider of timely imagery services. ECAPS will design and manufacture a complete High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) system for Skybox’s third Earth observation satellite.

ECAPS’ expertise is in green propulsion technology, with a flight-demonstrated solution to provide both increased performance and reduced life cycle costs. ECAPS’ High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) technology includes a family of propellants, propulsion systems and thrusters currently ranging from 0.5N to 220N. The storable Ammonium Dinitramide (ADN) based liquid monopropellant, LMP-103S, is easy to handle and transport due to its low toxicity and low sensitivity, and has received a UN/DOT 1.4S transport classification; thus allowing it to be transported on commercial passenger aircraft.

“This initial HPGP system will serve to qualify the system design for subsequent Skybox satellites,” said Mathias Persson, President of ECAPS. “We are proud to partner with Skybox and look forward to supplying them with both this initial system, as well as propulsion systems for their future constellation of satellites.”

ECAPS’ flight-proven HPGP technology, which utilizes the Ammonium Dinitramide (ADN)-based monopropellant designated LMP-103S, is environmentally benign and significantly easier to both transport and handle than monopropellant hydrazine. These favorable characteristics provide increased flexibility to spacecraft manufacturers whose mission concepts require the ability to launch from various sites around the world. In addition, HPGP has demonstrated higher on-orbit performance than traditional hydrazine systems.

“ECAPS’ HPGP propulsion system will provide our spacecraft nearly twice the on-orbit delta-V of the more traditional monopropellant systems.  This level of performance will give our constellation of small satellites significant mission flexibility, enabling us to provide higher quality, more timely data to our customers,” said Jonny Dyer, Chief Engineer of Skybox. “Early adoption of green propellants is well aligned with our innovative, environmentally responsible culture and this contract makes us the first company in the U.S. to leverage this technology.  In addition, the handling and safety advantages of the HPGP system provide us the lowest projected life cycle cost of the technologies we analyzed.”

The contract marks the beginning of a long-term partnership between Skybox and ECAPS to develop propulsion systems for Skybox’s constellation of Earth observation satellites. ATK, ECAPS’ industrial partner in the U.S., is also a key supplier for the project, with content to include the development of propellant tanks at its Commerce, California, facility and the capability to assemble HPGP systems for future Skybox constellation builds at its Beltsville, Maryland. facility.  ATK also provides the ability to blend HPGP propellant at its facility in Elkton, Maryland.