NASA To Test Safer, More Efficient Green Fuel For Spacecraft
The human race has seen drastic advancements in space exploration over the last five decades. However, humans missions still remain few and far between. The reason for that is considered to be the fuel used in the missions. Until now, most missions to space have used hydrazine, which is a dangerous and toxic chemical for humans to use and handle. Handling the colourless liquid requires some very strict safety precautions. Now, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States has announced that it is planning on testing a new fuel for spacecraft. Dubbed the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) it uses a non-toxic, rose coloured solution that can be a breakthrough in space exploration.
About the fuel
The GIPM is a spacecraft which will use the aforementioned fuel to power the mission. The fuel in question is a “green” mix of hydroxylammonium nitrate with an oxidizer that assists it in burning. It is considered safe enough to fuel the spacecraft while it is still being built, which will fast forward the launch. Apart from being safer, the newest chemical is also significantly more powerful than hydrazine. According to NASA, the newer fuel will offer up to 50 percent better performance. This boost in efficiency can either be used by travelling more distance in an equivalent amount of hydrazine; or by reducing the amount of fuel required in a spacecraft.
If the GIPM by NASA is successful in justifying the need for the new type of fuel; it could pave way for longer, more resource intensive missions like sending humans to Mars or Moon. The aforementioned mission by NASA, GPIM is scheduled to launch in June on board a Falcon Heavy Rocket by SpaceX. This is the same mission carrying the LightSail 2 project which is being conducted to demonstrate controlled solar sailing.