Bradford ECAPS has now performed the first US “green” propellant satellite fuelling campaign within the Orbital ATK facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California. During this campaign, six SkySats (Planet Labs Inc.) were fuelled with LMP-103S propellant. The propellant handling, including the loading of the satellites, was regarded as non-hazardous operations by the range safety. Only the dynamic gas pressurisation operations of the propulsion systems were judged as hazardous.

The fuelling operations were completed by a four-man crew within a seven day week from arrival to pressurisation of the last satellite. The crew was a team of personnel from Bradford ECAPS, MOOG and NASA. Only simple personal protective equipment (PPE) for handling of regular chemicals was used during the operations, while traditional propellants require so called SCAPE operations. The propellant was transported by a passenger aircraft from Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden, to Los Angeles International Airport, which would be impossible for a Hydrazine propellant.

The six SkySats are scheduled to be launched from VAFB on an Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket on October 31. Bradford ECAPS is the result of a recent acquisition of the Swedish company ECAPS AB by the Bradford Holding Company Ltd., which is the controlling shareholder of Bradford BV in Netherlands.

ECAPS is known for their low-toxic, so called “green”, alternative to existing hydrazine based space propulsion solutions. The High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) technology includes the monopropellant LMP-103S and thrusters optimized for this propellant.

The HPGP technology is space proven by the PRISMA mission launched in 2010, followed by the launches of one SkySat from India and four SkySats from French Guyana during 2016.