The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has completed testing of prototype thrusters that use low-toxicity propellant to provide satellites with in-space propulsion.
The 1 Newton-class Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-toxic Propellant thrusters (ASCENT) recently underwent a series of hot-fire testing in a vacuum environment at the AFRL Chemical in-Space Thruster Test and Research Site, the laboratory said Monday.
Performance data from the evaluation will inform the development of ASCENT thrusters from the prototyping phase to the upcoming demonstration of flight weight-representative units.
“This work is important to the U.S. Space Force since it provides satellites with propulsive capabilities that support space resiliency and space domain awareness,” explained Corinne Sedano, AFRL group lead and senior research aerospace engineer.
ASCENT, which already operated in space from 2019 to 2020, provides thrust using a 1990-era propellant designed to feature low toxic levels and improved efficiency.