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Green Propellant Infusion Mission

The Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) is sponsored by the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate as a technology demonstration mission. The objective is to advance the technology readiness level of a green propulsion system, specifically by demonstrating its capability on-orbit. The propulsion system is referred to as “green” because it uses fuel with reduced toxicity hazards compared to hydrazine. The green propellant for this mission is AF-M315E, a blend of hydroxylammonium nitrate and other ingredients. Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), it offers nearly 50 percent higher performance for a given propellant tank volume compared to a standard hydrazine propellant system. This technology promises higher performance for future satellites by providing options for longer mission durations, additional maneuverability, increased payload, and simplified launch processing. GPIM is led and managed by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, who will provide the spacecraft and perform all integration functions, with support from Aerojet Rocketdyne, who will provide the propulsion system. Additional partners include AFRL, who will provide the fuel, NASA Kennedy Space Center, who will perform material testing and ground processing support, and NASA Glenn Research Center, who recently completed thruster plume models for evaluation of potential plume impingement on the spacecraft and the corresponding testing to measure plume characteristics to correlate with the plume models. The GPIM is among several other payloads to be lofted in 2016 by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster.

Reference: Overview of NASA GRCs Green Propulsion Infusion Mission Thruster Testing and Plume Diagnostics, Deans, Matthew C.; Reed, Brian D.; Yim, John T.; Arrington, Lynn A.; Williams, George J.; Kojima, Jun J.; McLean, Christopher H. AIAA 2014 Propulsion and Energy Conference