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China develops non-toxic propellant for orbiting satellites

Updated: Dec 7,2016 9:33 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — A non-toxic propulsion system developed by Chinese scientists will enable satellites to carry more payload and save on satellite launching costs, the system’s developer said on Dec 6.

The ammonium dinitramide (ADN) technology used in the system proved successful when it was tested in the Shijian-17 satellite sent into space last month, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said in a statement.

Shijian-17 is tasked with verifying technology for observation of space debris, new electric sources and electric propulsion.

According to scientists, the propulsion system is meant to help an orbiting satellite sustain its altitude as atmospheric drag and gravity can lead to gradual descent in orbit.

It will also make China the second country after Sweden to master a non-toxic propulsion technology in orbit, it said.

The technology will help avoid human injuries and adverse effects to equipment caused by propellant emission or leakage, according to the document.

As most propellants currently used are toxic, countries are racing to develop more environmentally friendly and non-toxic propellants, it added.

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