Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., a unit of Ball Corporation (BLL - Free Report) , together with Aerojet Rocketdyne has brought forward an environmental-friendly spacecraft fuel for NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM).
Ball has successfully demonstrated the end-to-end checkout of the 22 Newton thruster required for GPIM. The role of 22 Newton thrusters is significant to GPIM as it will fire along with four smaller 1N thrusters to initiate orbit inclination changes and altitude changes. It is also vital for GPIM's eventual de-orbit upon mission completion.
An industry and government team is working under Ball’s guidance to bring up a high-performance, non-toxic fuel alternative to the conventional hydrazine. The mission propellant, a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate (HAN) fuel/oxidizer blend, or AF-M315E, provides around 50% improved performance than hydrazine.
GPIM is a Technology Demonstration Mission under the leadership of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. The green propulsion system will fly aboard a Ball Configurable Platform (BCP) 100 spacecraft bus. This is the first time that U.S will use a spacecraft to test green propellant technology.
Ball Corporation., which belongs to the containers and packaging industry along with Crown Holdings Inc. (CCK - Free Report) , Greif, Inc. (GEF - Free Report) and Mobile Mini, Inc. (MINI - Free Report) , also supplies aerospace and other technologies and services to government and commercial customers through its Aerospace and Technologies segment.
The segment contributed 12% of Ball Corporation’s revenues in the first quarter of 2013. It develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. In the first quarter, Aerospace and Technologies segment sales increased 15% to $231 million. The segment had a backlog of more than $1 billion at the end of the quarter.
This is a milestone in Space Technologies as green fuel will reduce environmental impact and operational hazards, improve launch processing capabilities, increase payload capacity, enhance spacecraft maneuverability and also enable longer duration missions. This will lead to the adaptation of green spacecraft propulsion technology into a wide range of government and commercial missions. Given its improved performance, green propellant will be the preferred choice for future space missions and provide a competitive edge to Ball’s Aerospace and Technologies.
Ball Corporation currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).