An upcoming launch of an Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket will be carrying six Planet SkySat earth observation satellites, each equipped with ECAPS-built ( propulsion systems. This will be the most significant launch to date for ECAPS ‘green’ high performance propulsion systems, which increases payload carrying capability for spacecraft builders while offering a high performance but non-toxic and easy and safe-to-handle solution to their needs. And while several orbiting spacecraft currently use ECAPS, such as the European PRISMA and previous elements of the Planet SkySat constellation, this will be the largest deployment to date of ‘green’ non-toxic spacecraft propulsion.

Most spacecraft to date have typically employed maneuvering thrusters which use hydrazine, a simple and effective but highly toxic and dangerous fuel. Handling and transporting hydrazine has typically been a very costly and dangerous activity, a fact that often makes space missions even more expensive and complicated than they already are. Special hazard suits, handling procedures, facilities and expensive special-purpose transport planes are common. ECAPS, however, uses a propellant blend (LMP-103S) that is so safe that it can be transported on commercial aircraft and be handled with only simple safety measures. In addition, the blend is higher density than hydrazine, a fact that helps ECAPS be more efficient than hydrazine while being cleaner and lower cost. The higher efficiency allows for spacecraft to have longer lives in space or carry larger payloads.

The ECAPS system was developed in Sweden by the company of the same name over the course of most of the last two decades. After incubating within the Swedish government-owned Swedish Space Corporation, ECAPS was acquired earlier this year and merged with Bradford (, a Netherlands-based builder and developer of propulsion subsystems and attitude control systems. Bradford and ECAPS are both owned by AIAC, a privately-held US-based global industrial group.

Said Ian Fichtenbaum, Director of Bradford and AIAC’s space and satellite specialist: “This is truly an international collaboration of European and American companies and technologies coming together to make going to space an ecologically friendly endeavor. We are very happy to be involved in this ground-breaking technology”

The Minotaur launch is scheduled to occur October 31st, 2017 out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Key members of AIAC, ECAPS and Bradford will be in attendance, in addition to teams from Planet and Orbital ATK.