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Satnews Daily
August 14th, 2016

Propulsion Evolution For Smallsats En Route From Aerojet Rocketdyne

Designed to allow cubesats and smallsats to increase their capabilities, such as extending mission life, increasing architecture resiliency, maneuvering to higher and lower orbits, and performing complex proximity operations and formation flying, Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing their MPS-130 cubesat propulsion system.

The company has signed a contract with NASA to maturate this technology—a rather unique feature of this new system is the use of a green propellant known as AF-M315E, whose modular presentation will be largely comprised of 3-D printed components which lowers the number of parts as well as the time required to assemble the propulsion system. Additionally, the use of AF-M315E will result in a safer, more efficient and higher performance alternative relative to traditional hydrazine propellant. Under the contract, Aerojet Rocketdyne will deliver a fully-integrated MPS-130 green modular propulsion system for flight demonstration, as well as conduct development and validation testing.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), has signed a contract with NASA to mature the development of a MPS-130 CubeSat propulsion system using a green propellant, known as AF-M315E. Once fully developed, the technology will increase CubeSat maneuverability, offer a modular propulsion system largely comprised of 3-D printed components, as well as provide a safer, more efficient and higher-performance alternative relative to traditional hydrazine propellant.

Aerojet Rocketdyne was selected for this project under NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s “Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies” solicitation, which seeks to mature technologies beyond their ‘tipping point.’ According to NASA, the goal is 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.

Eileen Drake, the CEO and President of Aerojet Rocketdyne, related that this technology will develop into a revolutionary new product family, as this new class of smallsat propulsion systems can be used in future NASA, military as well as commercial missions, with immense benefit to the public and private sectors.