Nasa has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne to mature the development of a MPS-130 CubeSat propulsion system powered by a green propellant, AF-M315E.

The public-private partnership deal aims to increase the ability of in-space CubeSat missions.

Once developed, the AF-M315E propellant, developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), will be able to offer a safer, more proficient and higher performance alternative to conventional hydrazine propellants.

Under the deal, Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide a complete MPS-130 green propulsion system to be used in flight demonstration and will undertake development and validation testing of the system.

Aerojet Rocketdyne president Eileen Drake said: "There is no doubt it will open exciting new doors in the private and public sectors for those seeking to increase the capability of nanosats and operate them more affordably and efficiently, and with safer propellants."

"The public-private partnership deal aims to increase the ability of in-space CubeSat missions."

With the MPS-130 green propulsion system, CubeSats and nanosats will be able to boost their abilities, including mission life extension, increasing architecture resiliency, manoeuvring to higher and lower orbits, as well as executing complex proximity operations and formation flying.

The CubeSats and nanosats will be able to match their performance with other larger satellites.

Nasa, under its Utilising Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies initiative, selected Aerojet Rocketdyne for mature development of MPS-130’s propulsion system.

The objective of the initiative is to help the private industry to develop and qualify different technologies for commercial use.

With the initative, the space agency also seeks to help the commercial space industry and provide technologies and capabilities for future missions and commercial purposes.

In December, Aerojet Rocketdyne secured another deal from Nasa to mature the design of the 1-Newton GR-1 monopropellant thrusters. The thrusters use a green propellant, AF-M315E.