Building an environmentally friendly rocket

WASHINGTON — Dulles, Virginia-based space systems contractor Orbital ATK and Swedish space propulsion systems developer ECAPS will work together to make space launch rockets more environmentally friendly.

The partnership, announced Monday at the AIAA Propulsion and Energy Conference in Salt Lake City, will bring  ECAPS’ technology to Orbital ATK’s customers in the U.S.

Under the partnership, the two will develop and market a high performance green propulsion system that Orbital says will be less expensive and dramatically reduce the environmental risks of traditional rocket propellants.

“Greener propulsion is one of the keys to making access to space safer while lowering life cycle costs,” said Orbital ATK missile products division vice president and general manager Pat Nolan.

“We believe our partnership will go a long way toward developing innovative and practical solutions for public and private use.”

Orbital ATK will have exclusive use of ECAPS’ low toxicity monopropellant technology for replacing current hydrazine-based systems. ECAPS’ product is called environmentally-benign, and safer than conventional hydrazine.

Orbital ATK did not disclose financial terms of its partnership with ECAP, nor a timeline for development.

Orbital is one of two contractors launching regular supply missions to the International Space Station.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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