Agile Space unveils new test fire facility

Agile Space unveils new test fire facility

On April 3rd, Agile Space, an aerospace startup located in Colorado, unveiled their new test fire facility, shortly after they commissioned and conducted the first hot fire there. The facility, dubbed "Animas" can support test fires of engines capable of producing over 1,200 newtons (136kg/300lbs) of thrust. This is the largest known, commercial testing facility, that can simulate a vacuum-based, space-like environment.

The new Animas facility is poised to allow Agile access to the growing market for in-space propulsion. Due to various factors, such as deep space exploration, lower launch costs, stricter government deorbiting regulations, increased military threats, and environmental challenges, have led to a real demand for reliable, in-space propulsion systems. 

“The industry has long been in need of a commercial facility to efficiently and safely test large hypergolic thrusters,” said Will Francis, Chief Commercial Officer at Agile.

More about Animas

Another image of the Animas testing facility © Agile Space

Named after the Animas mountain in the company's hometown of Durango, Colorado, the two-story test stand is located on an acre of property and boasts some truly impressive characteristics, such as:

✦ Accommodates large-scale propulsion systems of over 1,200 newtons, including Agile's own A2200 rocket engine.

✦ Houses a sophisticated altitude and pressure system, capable of simulating the harsh in-space environment, reducing risk when it comes to the real deal. 

✦ Offers a flexible and modular design, so, 3rd party systems can also be tested here, increasing the industry's capacity to test propulsion systems for either the US government or customer entities. 

✦ On-site fuel mixing system that allows the production of M20 and other mixed fuels, for either internal or customer use.

✦ A modern and sophisticated data acquisition system with remote command and control, allows for rapid testing and iterations. 

To give the team at Agile the crucial data needed to ensure their propulsion systems are operating nominally, the Animas facility also boasts 500 instrumentation and control channels. These channels are capable of monitoring variables such as thrust, pressure, temperature, acceleration, and vibration. The stand also houses a plethora of visual and infrared cameras to help monitor hot fires as they happen. 

Diagram of the Animas test facility © Agile Space

With this new facility in their arsenal, Agile will be able to test their advanced hypergolic propulsion systems in realistic environmental settings. Preparing both the hardware and personnel when it comes to on-orbit missions.

“Today’s bottleneck of often having to wait years to get these types of engines tested not only stifles innovation but could also risk national security. We’re proud to unveil Animas, our new world-class facility, and continue to deliver a vertically integrated portfolio of innovative propulsion solutions that solve our commercial and government customers’ unique challenges.” - Will Francis, CCO at Agile Space Industries

About Agile Space

As mentioned earlier, Agile Space is an American aerospace startup, headquartered in Durango, Colorado. Originally the company was founded in 2009, under the name "Advanced Propulsion Mobile Test." The company would test customer propulsion systems, most notably NASAs Talos, which was developed at the company's other test stand, Sunshine. However, after a decade of testing customer hardware, the company rebranded into "Agile Space Industries" and began working on their own propulsion systems. 

The company specializes in additively manufactured hypergolic thrusters used for in-space situations. These thrusters range from small attitude control systems (ACS), to powerful, throttling engines, such as the A2200. 

Agile Space engineer holding up a LE144 engine © Agile Space
“2024 is proving to be an exciting year for Agile, launching new products, receiving valuable contracts, and debuting the test stand facility – all in the first quarter. We are encouraged by the industry’s response, and look forward to playing an essential role in the greater aerospace ecosystem, solving propulsion challenges with groundbreaking speed and performance.” - Will Francis, CCO of Agile Space Industries