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Space Technology, Ball Team Up For Integrated Multi-Layer Insulation Test on Green Propellant Infusion Mission
October 30, 2013

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Revolutionary insulation technology, critical to long duration space flight, is set for validation on an upcoming NASA mission managed by the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate. The Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will include a test of an advanced form of thermal insulation, called integrated multi-layer insulation (IMLI). If successful, the insulation could become the industry standard on future satellites and cryogenic subsystems.

The primary purpose of the GPIM Technology Demonstration Mission is to demonstrate the viability of an alternative propulsion system for spacecraft other than hydrazine by flying a "green" propulsion system on a Ball-built small satellite. Ball Aerospace, the prime contractor and principal investigator for the mission, leads a team of co-investigators including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sacramento, Calif., the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards AFB, Calif., NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Quest Thermal Group LLC, a small company located in Arvada, Colo. that manufactures IMLI, is developing the technology under Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contracts with NASA.

“NASA partners with small businesses to flight demonstrate new technologies and then infuse them into the commercial marketplace,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Through missions such as GPIM, NASA’s finding efficient, cost-effective opportunities to flight test the technologies that will enable our future missions while also benefit America’s aerospace industries.”

The new IMLI offers many benefits to conventional insulation. By utilizing rigid spacers instead of netting to separate radiation layers, it is structurally more robust, lighter and easier to install. The insulation  has a nearly 30 percent thermal performance increase over conventional multi-layer insulation; the IMLI's increased thermal capability is critical for minimizing heat transference and boil-off of cryogenic storage systems. High performance insulation materials help make spacecraft and cryogenic space systems more efficient during their work in the harsh space environment to keep them operating longer and more efficiently.

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Advanced form of thermal insulation.
NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission is being readied by Ball Aerospace to test an advanced form of thermal insulation when it flies in 2015.
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BALL AEROSPACE & TECH. CORP.
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Page Last Updated: October 30th, 2013
Page Editor: Loura Hall