Benchmark integrates an ecological chemical propulsion system with the new OTV space flight

Halcyon Avant hot fire testing at the Benchmark Test Center in California. Photo: spatial reference systems

Space reference systems has integrated its non-toxic chemical propulsion system with Space flightOrbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) prior to the SpaceX Transporter 3 carpooling mission.

Spaceflight is the first to use Benchmark’s Halcyon Avant green bi-thruster system, and the Sherpa space tug for this mission is the very first Sherpa-LTC. Spaceflight signed Benchmark to provide chemical propulsion for this co-developed version of a space tugboat in June. Milestone’s hot fire pump tests were completed in California last month, ahead of launch.

Benchmark chief engineer Jake Teufert said the company saw a need for chemical propulsion that did not use toxic chemicals from legacy propulsion systems like hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. This led to the development of its propulsion system, which won over space startups, he said.

The company claims that its Halcyon Avant green biergol system enjoys a 25% increase in fuel efficiency over other green monopropellants, using low cost and readily available thrusters.

“We are one of the few people to offer green chemical propulsion. There are many suppliers of electricity, but the chemicals you [quicker] time in the income-generating orbit, ”said Teufert Via satellite. “It’s the difference between making money in days and taking weeks or months to generate income. For for-profit and investment-financed businesses [this] is a big deal.

Benchmark Space Systems currently has single-thruster monopropeller systems in orbit, but the Sherpa-LTC propulsion system will be the most complex system it has launched to date.

In the upcoming mission, Spaceflight will first deploy clients to the OTV, then perform a series of propulsion maneuvers to confirm telemetry on the system. Then, Spaceflight will use the propulsion system to effect an altitude change in order to place one of the spacecraft into its operational orbit.

“We are delighted that this is an operational mission where we will deliver real payloads into operational orbits,” Teufert said. “We’re going to put this thing to the test and see what it can do.”

The Benchmark team is also working on the second Sherpa LTC propulsion system slated for delivery in Q2 2022 to Spaceflight, as well as smaller scale Halcyon Avant systems for commercial and government microsatellite missions.

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