Dushku says the AM motors, which operate with a tank pressure of 700 psi, have been pressurized to 2,200 psi with water before failing. That margin, the inert hybrid fuel and the high temperature needed to decompose nitrous oxide into nitrogen and oxygen should reassure launch service providers with safety concerns, he says.
In their runway demonstration, Dushku and Mueller used a little of the nitrous oxide in the motor tank to fire cold-gas attitude-control thrusters to rotate the 6U spacecraft shell, and then they hot-fired the motor for 5 sec. Ultimately, they hope to produce a small AM spacecraft that can generate a delta V of 780 meters per sec. with a 60-sec. burn time.
“We can get to where we want to be very, very quickly,” Dushku says.