Bradford Space’s line of ‘green’ non-toxic ECAPS propulsion will soon be going to space again, now for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). STPSat-5, a space technology demonstration mission built by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) based on its new SN-50 small satellite bus, will be joining around 70 other small satellites on the upcoming Spaceflight ‘SSO-A’ mission out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, currently scheduled for November 19th. The launch will mark the first time that a U.S. DoD mission will be using the Bradford ECAPS LMP-103S green propellant.

Among other spacecraft on the launch, the STPSat-5 spacecraft will be launching alongside two Planet SkySats which are also equipped with ECAPS thrusters - making a total of three spacecraft on the launch with ECAPS systems. Joining a dozen others, this launch would increase the number of ECAPS-enabled spacecraft in orbit to 15.

The STPSat-5 payloads are provided by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). As the prime contractor, SNC designed and built the STPSat-5 spacecraft and integrated the government payloads. Bradford is proud to provide the capabilities of the ECAPS system to this user community.

Said Bradford Director Ian Fichtenbaum, “The era of using toxic, expensive and inefficient hydrazine propellant on U.S. government space missions is coming to an end. We’re glad that ECAPS can be a part of that change.”

Also noted by SNC’s senior director of programs in spacecraft systems, within SNC’s Space Systems business area, Joel Nelson. “It’s been great working with ECAPS and providing a green non-toxic propulsion is a big step. We are always looking for ways to make space safer and more efficient, and this is a great example of being able to do that.”

STPSat-5 is the first mission to fly SNC’s versatile SN-50 bus, which has both low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous-Earth orbit capabilities. The vehicle is fully compatible with the standard Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter and is an ideal choice for a variety of operational, technology demonstration, and science missions. The inclusion of ECAPS propulsion on the SN-50 bus is seen as a great benefit, enabling rapid, low-risk pre-launch fueling campaigns and ‘fuel at the factory’ capabilities. The ECAPS propulsion also enables the SN-50 bus to be integrated on a wide variety of small launch vehicles.

The ECAPS HPGP ‘High Performance Green Propulsion’ technology is an emerging choice by spacecraft manufacturers as an enhanced alternative to existing hydrazine-based solutions. The system provides a unique high-density storage, is high-performant and, due to the low-toxicity and low sensitivity of the propellant, easy to transport and handle. These unique assets provide manufacturers and operators potentially profound savings through the elimination of launch-site fueling and enhancing overall spacecraft payload mass. To date, a dozen orbiting spacecraft have used ECAPS propulsion systems, performing dozens of on-orbit maneuvers per month. Several additional ECAPS-equipped spacecraft, including imaging satellites and various U.S. government missions, are slated for launch in the coming year.

For more information, please contact:

Patrick van Put (Managing Director, Bradford and Bradford ECAPS)
Tel: +31 165 305 161

Ian Fichtenbaum (Senior VP, AIAC; Director, Bradford)
Tel: +1-347-553-6319