A propellant leak results in Sherpa tug off the SpaceX rideshare flight

After its propulsion system experienced a leak, a Sherpa tug was pulled from a scheduled SpaceX rideshare mission, pushing Spaceflight to find alternative transportation for ten cubesats. Technicians detected a leak from the Sherpa’s propulsion system after combining Sherpa-LTC vehicle with the SpaceX gear for the Transporter-3 flight, which is planned to fly in mid-January, according to Spaceflight. Benchmark Space Systems provided the propulsion system, which had only recently been deployed and fueled before integration.

“At this point, we believe that there is no harm to any client spacecraft or safety concerns,” the corporation said, adding that “it is a noteworthy development.” “We have chosen not to launch the Sherpa-LTC1 on the SXRS-6 mission out of an extra precaution.”

The breach was found on December 21, according to Jodi Sorensen, a representative for Spaceflight. The Sherpa has been removed from SpaceX’s launch hardware and is going to be sent to Spaceflight’s Auburn, Washington, laboratory for investigation. “We’ll keep working closely with Benchmark to figure out what’s causing the leak,” she said, “but there’s nothing concrete at this point.”

Benchmark claimed that its thrusters had already been mounted and fueled on Sherpa the same day the leak was found. As per business executives, Halcyon Avant thrusters utilize high-test peroxide as well as hydrocarbon propellants that offer performance comparable to systems which use hydrazine and combined oxides of nitrogen, however without the toxic propellant handling issues.

After ground tests, the Halcyon Avant thrusters mounted on Sherpa-LTC1 are going to be the first-ever to go to space. Spaceflight was referred to questions concerning the leak by a business official. The Sherpa’s absence from the Transporter-3 deployment has an impact on ten cubesats which would have been launched from it. As per Spaceflight, 3 large synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, 2 from Capella Space as well as one from Umbra, are linked to numerous ports on the payload adapter of Falcon 9 and also is going to still launch on the SXRS-6 flight.

Among the destroyed satellites are 4 Kleos Space cubesats designated Patrol Mission by the company. This series of cubesats, the third cluster, is intended for radio-frequency localization. As the business prepares to roll out its satellite telecommunications services, Lynk Global launched its very first commercial satellite dubbed Lynk Tower 1, on Sherpa.

The Aerospace Corporation produced two 1.5-unit cubesats for NASA’s LLITED (Low-Latitude Ionosphere/Thermosphere Enhancements in Density) mission to explore characteristics of the nighttime upper atmosphere. The goal of that operation was to use the Sherpa’s propulsion system to navigate into the lower orbit and release these cubesats.

VZLUSAT-2 3-unit cubesat was launched by Czech Aerospace Research Centre alongside smallsat maker Spacemanic to test technologies for a potential Czech satellite constellation. SPiN-1 is a single-unit technological demo cubesat built by the Space Products and Innovation firm in Germany. The Portland State Aerospace Society is hosting a presentation of OreSat0, which is a one-unit cubesat created by the university students using open-source technologies.

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