On High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) solutions for small satellites – with Bradford Space

Podcast

Episode 14 of the Space Industry podcast is a discussion with Bradford Space about the benefits, applications, trade-offs, and future potential of green propellant for small satellite thrusters.

In this episode we speak with Khaki Rodway, Director of Business Development, and Patrick van Put, Managing Director of European Operations, from Bradford Space.

Bradford Space is an experienced, US-owned business with operations in New York and Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Seattle. The company develops propulsion systems, avionics, attitude and orbit control technology, microgravity workspaces, and provides logistics services for missions beyond low earth orbit. Bradford Space is also a satsearch member. We discuss:

  • The evolution of High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) and the benefits it can bring to small satellite missions.
  • How HPGP is transported and handled by satellite integrators.
  • The potential impacts of space debris and the overall Space Situational Awareness requirements in the near future.
  • Using green propellant for emerging applications such as GEO/LEO refuelling and deep space missions.

The product portfolio of Bradford Space and Bradford ECAPS

A launch-safe and cost-effective electrothermal propulsion system that uses water as propellant. The Comet produces 17 mN thrust with a specific impulse of 175s. It is approved for flight on multiple launch vehicles and features a flexible interface suitable for use with a wide range of spacecraft sizes.

A 0.040 kg (ex. FCV) mass thruster using non-toxic propellant and designed for small satellites and CubeSats. The system has a thrust range of 30 to 100 mN and specific impulse of 196 to 209 s. The system's versatility has been designed to enable new applications for satellite operators along with improving safety and efficiency during integration.

A 0.38 kg mass thruster using non-toxic propellant, and designed for attitude and orbit control of small-sized satellites. The system has a thrust range of 0.25 to 1 N and specific impulse of 194 to 227 s. The system's versatility has been designed to enable new applications for satellite operators along with improving safety and efficiency during integration.

Bradford ECAPS's 1N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude and orbit control of small-sized satellites. 46 1N HPGP thrusters have been demonstrated to date, aboard the PRISMA spacecraft and the SkySat series. The system is Bradford ECAPS' most heritage line of thrusters and is most popular with small to medium sized spacecraft, up to 750 kg.

Bradford ECAPS's 200N HPGP Thruster is designed for launch vehicle upper-stage reaction control and potential defense applications, such as missile defense. The system uses non-toxic propellant for added versatility, safety, and integration efficiency.

Bradford ECAPS's 22N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of larger satellites and for systems such as propulsive payload adaptor rings. The system has a mass of 1.1 kg, a thrust range of 5.5 to 22 N, and a specific impulse of 243 to 255 s. The non-toxic green propellant is designed to enhance versatility, safety, and efficiency during integration and use.

Bradford ECAPS's 50N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of larger satellites, including geostationary satellites, or launch vehicle applications. The 2.1 kg system has a specific impulse of 243 to 255 s and thrust range of 12.5 to 50 N. This thruster is currently in development and the company is looking for partners to bring the prior work into fruition.

The Bradford ECAPS's 5N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of small and medium satellites, providing higher thruster when and where it is needed. The 5N HPGP thruster is currently undergoing a test fire campaign with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, characterizing the performance of the system.


Space logistics service

Bradford Space offers a smallsat logistics service that enables routine and reliable deep space missions. The proposed solution uses Bradford’s Space Square Rocket spacecraft for missions as far out as 1.5AU, encompassing geosynchronous orbit (GEO), low lunar orbit (LLO), and Mars flyby.


Designed to offer rugged, reliable, self-redundant performance to detect sunlight and provide coarse information for a potentially hemispherical FOV. Proven performance with the product continuously in production since 1975 and used in an array of missions.

An analog sensor based on a quadrant detector that measures the solar aspect angle in two axes. Processing the four quadrant outputs results in the two components of the solar aspect angle. Qualified for LEO with many temperature excursions and for very severe radiation regions (e.g. HEO in Van Allen belts).

A similar system to Bradford's Fine Sun Sensor (FSS0 but with a smaller mass and physical footprint. Designed for long-duration LEO missions, a Mini-FSS variant is also available without read-out electronics that is particularly suited for small satellites.

A power conditioning and distribution unit specifically designed for the needs of spacecraft travelling beyond Earth orbit. The system has a 5 — 50V bus, two independent 100W regulated lines, and 10 fully protected and telemetered output channels up to 150W each (enabling high-power subsystems such as electrical propulsion or rover drive systems).

The unit consists of a Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) and one Wheel Drive Electronics Box (WDE). The 5.2 kg, 168 W (maximum) power system has angular momentum storage of 18 N m s and a maximum angular speed 4000 rpm.

The unit consists of a Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) and one Wheel Drive Electronics Box (WDE). The 6.02 kg, 168 W (maximum) power system has angular momentum storage of 25 N m s and a maximum angular speed 4000 rpm.

The unit consists of a Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) and one Wheel Drive Electronics Box (WDE). The 6.7 kg, 168 W (maximum) power system has angular momentum storage of 40 N m s and a maximum angular speed 4000 rpm.

The Standard Accuracy Pressure Transducer (SAPT) is a piezo-resistive principle based, fully ESA qualified pressure gauging component, for both gaseous or liquid media. The integrated analogue temperature compensation allows for accuracies ≤ 0.5% FS, depending upon the operational temperature range and data output approximation.

The AMU is composed of four accelerometers disposed on a regular tetrahedron. It includes an accelerometer adaptation electronic board with four electrically independent channels connected to each Fibre Optic Gyro (FOG) Electronic Module (FEM) of the Gyro Electronic Unit (GEU) by an electrical harne

The CoSS delivers coarse information about the polar angle of the sun. This information is derived from the fact that the sensor output varies approximately proportional to the Cosine function of the angle of incidence of sunlight.

Bradford’s Flow Control Unit (FCU) technology provides precise control of the xenon propellant flow rates to ion thrusters

The High Accuracy Pressure Transducer (HAPT) is a piezo-resistive principle based, fully ESA qualified pressure gauging component, for both gaseous or liquid media

The Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop is aimed to provide a European Single-Phase Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop (MPFL), consisting of a Pump Package, bypass assembly, connectors and coolant fluid, that may be used on future very high-power communication satellites

Bradford’s Miniaturized Standard Accuracy Pressure Transducer (mini-SAPT) is a piezo-resistive principle based, fully ESA qualified pressure gauging component, both for gaseous or liquid media.

The design of the CoSS-R exploits the excellent heritage of the dual chip detectors while optimizing the footprint and mass.

The Ultrasonic Flow Meter (UFM) provides a highly accurate direct and rapid measurement of liquid mass flowrate, e.g. propellant consumption in satellite bi-propellant propulsion systems. Because of its non-intrusive nature, the unit imposes negligible pressure losses.

The Electrical Propulsion System of the current generation communication satellite platforms requires unprecedented levels of performance from the GSE loading cart to be used for filling of its Xenon Storage Tanks.

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