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Scorpius Space takes cleaner leap with liquid methane

Daniel Yim, Senior Composite technician and son with the composite . Credit Scorpius Space
Daniel Yim, Senior Composite technician and son with the composite tank. Credit Scorpius Space

London, 13 July 2023.- Scorpius Space Launch Company (SSLC), a US-based space systems manufacturer, is examining using liquid methane as a propellant, highlighting its environmental benefits and potential to revolutionise aerospace. It is providing the all-composite tank technology that it has pioneered since the early 2000’s under its trademark PRESSURMAXX.

Hydrazine is a popular propellant for spacecraft, but concerns surrounding its toxicity and environmental impact have led to a search for cleaner alternatives. Liquid methane is a compelling solution. Its combustion results in exhaust plumes consisting primarily of water, with minimal carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. This makes it one of the cleanest burning rocket propellants, second only to hydrogen in terms of environmentally friendly exhaust products. 

PRESSURMAXX tanks are Type V pressure vessels (CPV). They are a unibody construction without any metals and contain no liner to make them a one-part, one-material product. The company executives co-authored the AAIA standards that are used in the industry today and the tanks are qualified for space flight.

Extreme temperatures are required for liquid methane and liquid oxygen which presents engineering challenges. However the use of composite tanks, such as Scorpius Space’s PRESSURMAXX TYPE V all-carbon composite tank technology offers a solution. The liner-less unibody constructions provide the necessary chemical and thermal compatibility while minimising failure modes typically associated with cryogenic applications.

“Our propellant tank system is now installed in a lunar lander vehicle sitting ready to launch – it is labelled “flight hardware” after successfully completing over 150 tests. That speaks to the maturity of our products and the exceptional talent of our team. All the credit to them for this remarkable achievement”, said Markus Rufer, the CEO of SSLC.

Scorpius Space supports liquid methane as a propellant highlighting the company’s commitment to advancing technology in a sustainable way.

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