Aerospace engineering company Valley Tech Systems has developed a thruster technology that was evaluated in a hot-fire test at the company test facility in Lovelock, Nevada, US.

The technology has been developed under an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) programme to support wider use of solid propellant thrusters for missile and space launch systems.

During testing, the controllable solid-propulsion thruster design prototype successfully achieved the longest-duration-to-date operation.

Valley Tech Systems Aerospace Division vice-president Russell Carlson said: “This breakthrough in long-duration throttling opens the door to the advantages of solid propellant thrusters across a broader spectrum of national security programmes, as well as government and commercial space applications.

“Along with long-duration performance, our design focuses on low lifecycle costs and fielded system safety.

“The Valley Tech Systems’ long-duration throttling allows solid-propulsion thrusters to serve as safer, more affordable alternatives.”

“Key elements of our approach include advanced high-temperature refractory metals and reusable high-temperature insulation material, combined with a fully DoD-qualified solid propellant manufactured by Nammo, our strategic partner for advanced energetic materials.”

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The Valley Tech Systems’ long-duration throttling allows solid-propulsion thrusters to serve as safer, more affordable alternatives for applications in which liquid-propulsion thrusters are currently used.

The solid fuel used by the company is less hazardous than the toxic storable liquid bi-propellant-fuelled systems.

The technology also helps regulate the ballistic thrust performance of solid rocket fuel, significantly increasing its energy efficiency.

The development of the long-duration controllable solid-propulsion thruster technology has been funded by AFRL through its Small Business Innovation Research programme.

Headquartered in Folsom, California, Valley Tech Systems focuses on developing rocket propulsion systems, and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems and services.