Skybox Taps Sweden’s SSC for Satellite Thrusters

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Skybox Imaging has selected Sweden-based SSC Corp.’s ECAPS propulsion subsidiary to provide on-orbit maneuvering thrusters for the third satellite in Skybox’s planned imaging constellation, SSC said in a Jan. 14 press release.

The satellite will utilize ECAPS’s environmentally friendly High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) system, SSC said. The contract is ECAPS’s first U.S. commercial contract, the company said.

“This initial HPGP system will serve to qualify the system design for subsequent Skybox satellites,” ECAPS President Mathias Persson said in a prepared statement. “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.”

Skybox Imaging of Mountain View, Calif., is planning a constellation of imaging microsatellites to provide timely data to a variety of customers using an Internet-based delivery platform. The first Skybox satellite is tentatively slated for launch this year as a secondary payload aboard a Russian Dnepr rocket, according to Ching-Yu Hu, a spokeswoman for the company.

The HPGP propulsion system is fueled by ammonium dinitramide, which according to ECAPS offers better performance and is far easier and safer to handle than conventional on-orbit thruster fuels. ECAPS characterized the contract with Skybox as the beginning of a long-term partnership that also involves ATK, which will assemble spacecraft propellant tanks in California and has the capability to manufacture HPGP systems at its Elton, Md., plant.