Insulation Demo Added to Green Propellant Mission

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NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., are adding another technology development element to the experimental Green Propellant Infusion Mission they plan to launch in 2015, tacking on a thermal insulation demonstration to the mission, the company said in an Oct. 29 press release. 

Under a subcontract to Ball, the value of which was not disclosed, Quest Thermal Group of Arvada, Colo., will add so-called integrated multilayer insulation to the small Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft — a testbed for a spacecraft fuel known as AF-M315E. The “green” fuel is intended to be an alternative to highly toxic hydrazine, a widely used spacecraft fuel that requires  special handling procedures. 

The Quest-made insulation, according to Ball’s press release, uses rigid spacers rather than netting to support layers of radiation insulation, making the layers easier to install on a spacecraft and improving thermal performance. 

The Green Propellant Infusion Mission is slated to launch as a secondary payload on the Falcon Heavy rocket Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is developing for a 2015 debut.