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Propellant

The Firefly Alpha uses methane fuel and a plug-aerospike engine

The signs of a healthy industry isn't just growth or innovation, but a tendency to reach out and fill niche markets. A case in point is the small satellite launch company Firefly Space Systems, which recently unveiled its planned Alpha launcher. Aimed at the small satellite launch market, it's designed to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) at very low cost with an unconventional aerospike engine. It is also the first orbital launcher to use methane as fuel.  Read More

Fuel depots in space could help make future missions to the Moon more economical says an M...

Getting into space is an expensive business where every little bit of extra weight, which includes the fuel powering the spacecraft, can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a mission. A team of researchers at MIT proposes establishing gas stations in space as a possible way to help cut the cost of future missions to the Moon.  Read More

The Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander acts as a hub for activity on the lunar surface, sendin...

Moon Express, a privately held company driven by a short-term goal of winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, and a longer-term strategy of mining the Moon, last week revealed its MX-1 lunar lander at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Not a one-trick pony, the MX-1 is being designed as the first of a series of robotic spacecraft that can carry out a multitude of tasks in Earth orbit as well as in deep space.  Read More

Artist's concept of SpaceX Mars landing (Image: SpaceX)

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, says that the missions to Mars by his company will use rockets powered by methane, which can be manufactured on the Red Planet. The announcement came last as the South-African born entrepreneur was giving a lecture in November to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, where he was presented with the Gold Medal – the society’s highest award.  Read More

NASA is seeking a 'green' alternative to hydrazine which, amongst other things, was used t...

After putting out a call for technology demonstration proposals for non-toxic “green” propellant alternatives to highly-toxic hydrazine earlier this year, NASA has selected a mission proposed by a team led by Boulder, Colorado-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation. The mission, which is intended to bridge the gap between technology development and use of green propellant, is expected to be developed and flown in around three years, with NASA providing US$45 million and additional funds provided by the mission co-investigators.  Read More

The launch of the Phoenix spacecraft on a Delta II rocket in 2007. NASA is looking for alt...

NASA has put out the call for greener propellant fuel for use on the spacecraft of the future. Though it does not appear that NASA has stipulated that alternative propellants must match the performance of current mainstay hydrazine, it's clear that only high-performance substances need apply. Environmental credentials are where the new fuel must demonstrate an edge over hydrazine, which is a corrosive, toxic pollutant. As well as the environmental benefits, use of greener propellants should prove more economical, reducing the need for involved safety procedures that can lengthen launch times.  Read More

The ANYWAY Spray allows spray bottles to be used at any angle

Perhaps you haven’t given this problem a lot of thought, but it is a problem nonetheless... most spray bottles can’t be used upside down, or even at much of angle once they’re half-empty. Not only that, but there’s always that last little bit of liquid in the bottom that gets wasted. That's because most of them have rigid-tubed sprayers that just have a single hole at the bottom, so they only suck up liquid from the bottom middle of the bottle. Well, British inventor Michael Pritchard has come up with something he calls the ANYWAY Spray, a tube that allows you to hold your spray bottles any way you darn well please, and keep spraying until they’re as dry as Keith Richards’ bourbon glass.  Read More

Sathyakumar Sharma with aluminum powder, which is mixed with carbon dioxide to fuel the ro...

It may be called the Red Planet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use green technology to get there. Engineers at the University of Hertfordshire are developing a miniature dual fuel rocket, as a test model for technology that could one day result in a full-scale carbon negative rocket capable of a return flight to Mars. Their model’s motor will be powered by a mixture of carbon dioxide and aluminum, turning the CO2 into carbon in the process - this is the opposite of what is done by traditional rockets.  Read More

The research team from Purdue University holding a rocket launched earlier this year using...

Automobiles aren’t the only vehicles turning to more environmentally friendly fuel sources. As we reported recently, NASA are testing a new type of rocket propellant made of a mixture of water and “nanoscale aluminum” powder they claim could provide a cleaner way to launch rockets, power long-distance space missions and generate hydrogen for fuel cells. A number of readers wondered, not unreasonably, what qualifies a rocket fuel as eco-friendly. We now have a few more answers.  Read More

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