Bradford ECAPS Celebrates 10 Years in Orbit

On the sunny afternoon of June 15th 2010, a Dnepr rocket sat quietly in a Yasny missile silo. On board was the Prisma spacecraft, a Swedish technology demonstrator mission that was the culmination of five years planning and execution in Solna, Sweden. Prisma was a 190 kg combined satellite and target drone designed to investigate techniques for formation flying and rendezvous in low Earth orbit under autonomous control. The launch went ahead as scheduled at 14:42, releasing Prisma into orbit 16 minutes later.

This launch was significant for Bradford ECAPS as it included the first HPGP rocket engines on a spacecraft. Two 1N HPGP thrusters were fitted to the satellite to provide orbit maintenance throughout the mission.

When Prisma was launched, the 1N HPGP thruster was the highest performance monopropellant thruster in the world. Today, 10 years later, it still is. The technology demonstrated on Prisma continues, as further variants of the original 1N HPGP design are in continuous production and supplied to customers around the world.

SkySat Systems Ready for Launch

The Bradford ECAPS propulsion systems for SkySats 16 – 18 are fueled and ready for lift-off at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station USA onboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink 8 mission. Three other systems, for SkySats 19 – 21, will be launched later this summer on another SpaceX Falcon 9. For more details on this SkySat Block 3 mission go to Planet’s announcement SkySats 16-21 To Launch On SpaceX Falcon 9 Rideshare Missions.

The SkySat propulsion is a highly compact system originally designed by ECAPS for Skybox Imaging, now Planet. The SkySat spacecraft are powered by four 1N HPGP thrusters and ADN propellant, providing the highest performance in the liquid monopropellant market.

To date, 19 propulsion systems have been delivered to Planet of which 13 have been successfully deployed and are operating in orbit. Earlier successful launches in this series are:

• SkySat 3 – Launched in June 2016 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, India (Antrix’s PSLV, C-34)

• SkySats 4-7 – Launched in September 2016 from Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana (Arianespace’s Vega, 007)

• SkySats 8-13 – Launched in October 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, USA (Orbital ATK’s Minotaur-C, 010)

• SkySats 14-15 – Launched in December 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, USA (SpaceX’s Falcon 9, 064)

1N HPGP Thrusters

Bradford Space and ECAPS continues manufacturing and delivery of the high performance (HPGP) 1N thruster for our satellite customers’ attitude and orbit control needs. We are happy to have a large number of these thrusters on order, in production and at the customer. These include:

• Preparatory activities for Moog’s first SL-OMV mission out of the United Kingdom with a scheduled delivery of 6 units in Q3, 2020. For more information about this mission, see Small Launch Orbital Manoeuvring Vehicle will Enable UK Launched Small Satellite Missions.

• Procurement and manufacturing begun on 100 thrusters for Boeing.

• Eight 1N HPGP High Throughput systems for the first Astranis micro-GEO mission. Targeting delivery by Q3 and ready for launch Q1, 2021 this program will feature an innovative combined HPGP / EP system.

• Twelve thrusters delivered to VACCO in Q4 2019 and the latest four have been delivered in March 2020 for use on Millennium Space Systems ALTAIR spacecraft.

• Four thrusters delivered to NanoAvionics in early May 2020.

• A double-capacity SkySat-like system is being engineered and built at Bradford Space in the Netherlands for York Space Systems, US, with a scheduled delivery in Q2, 2021.

Other Upcoming Missions Equipped with ECAPS Thrusters

• The Astroscale ELSA-d, launching in October 2020 (TBC), will have eight 1N HPGP thrusters.

• Fueling of the ArgoMoon subsystem, built by VACCO and powered by one ECAPS 100mN thruster with ADN propellant, is scheduled to be “fueled at the factory” at one of the ECAPS facilities in Sweden in Q4, 2020.

• One tailored SkySat system, comprising four ECAPS 1N HPGP thrusters on the Blue Canyon Tetra-3 mission for launch in Q1, 2021

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