The forward propulsion system (FPS) of Bigelow Aerospace’s Sundancer project — the world’s first space habitat — has completed a qualification test programme.

The Sundancer project aims to create a safe and environmentally friendly commercial human space habitat that will have 15-year lifespan in space.

The propulsion thruster system uses hydrogen and oxygen produced from Sundancer’s environmental control life support system (ECLSS) as propellants for the spacecraft’s attitude control system.

The hydrogen and oxygen as propellants is less toxic and cheaper than the traditional propellants such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide.

The propulsion system was thoroughly evaluated in the test programme, which included thermal cycle vacuum testing, electro-magnetic interference testing, and acoustic and vibration testing.

Additionally, evaluation included an accelerated test programme simulating space environments with vacuum and temperature swings culminating in a design certificate review.

Flight assembly began on 1 June 2009 and the first flight ship-set will be complete by August 2009.

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