A team led by Ball Aerospace has been selected by NASA to demonstrate a high performance green propellant alternative to the toxic fuel hydrazine, currently used for fuelling rockets, as part of the space agency's Green Propellant Infusion Mission.
NASA has developed the program to introduce non-toxic green fuels which are less harmful to environment, have less operational hazards, and reduce the launch processing complexity and costs.
To be developed with $45m funding from the space agency's Space Technology Program, and additional cost-sharing by mission co-investigators, the mission is expected to be flown in nearly three years.
NASA's Space Technology Program director Michael Gazarik said high performance green propellant has the potential to revolutionise how people travel to, from and in space.
"An effective green rocket fuel would dramatically reduce the cost and time for preparing and launching space missions while decreasing pollution and harm to our environment," Gazarik added.
According to NASA, the demonstration will link technology development and deployment of green propellant.
As per the award the team will develop and fly a high performance green propellant to demonstrate the operation of the integrated propulsion system in space, which is expected to offer a new system-level capability for future missions.
The new non-toxic high performance green propellants include liquid, solid, mono- propellant, which utilise one fuel source, or bi-propellants, which use two, and hybrids, which are expected to provide safer handling conditions and reduce environmental impact over the existing fuels.
The Ball Aerospace-led team includes co-investigators from Aerojet, the US Air Force Research Laboratory, the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, NASA's Glenn Research Center and NASA's Kennedy Space Center.