Technology

In a first, NASA to use non-toxic, 'green' fuel for spacecrafts

In a first, NASA to use non-toxic, 'green' fuel for spacecrafts

For the first time, NASA has decided to go green for its spacecraft fuel by claiming to use non-toxic liquid fuel in spacecrafts for its future space missions, which they will test on satellite this month.

NASA recently announced that a non-toxic, rosé-colored liquid could fuel the future in space and propel missions to the moon and other deep space missions. The fuel and compatible propulsion system in space will be tested for the first time with the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM), which is planned to launch this month on June 22.

This mission will show the amazing features of a high-performance ‘green’ fuel. The fuel is a mixture of hydroxyl ammonium nitrate with an oxidizer that lets it to burn, hence creating an alternative to hydrazine – the highly toxic fuel commonly used by spacecraft today –, reported NASA.

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Also, this fuel is denser than hydrazine and offers almost 50% better performance, which means that the spacecraft can travel farther or operate for longer with less propellant onboard.

Hydrazine is very toxic to humans and handling it requires strict safety precautions. With this fuel, the GPIM promised fewer handling restrictions, which will eventually cut down the time it takes to prepare for launch.

“Spacecraft could be fueled during manufacturing, simplifying processing at the launch facility, resulting in cost savings,” explained Christopher McLean, principal investigator for GPIM.

The test satellite mission features a propulsion system consisting of a propellant tank and five thrusters to carry the non-toxic fuel. The thrusters will fire in various scenarios to test engine performance and reliability.

Moreover, the fuel and propulsion system could be used in place of toxic hydrazine in any space vessels, ranging from tiny satellites to large spacecrafts. Also, there is a potential for this technology to be used for lunar missions, as per Xinhua.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019