Kennedy Space Center Propellants and Life Support Branch

Spacecraft Fueling Services

This is an historic support page for past efforts. This function was transferred to the KSC Engineering Directorate effective Oct 1, 2010. PL&S continues to provide hypergolic fuels and oxidizers in their containers to support NASA spacecraft propellant loading operations.

Completed Fueling Support:

Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP)

The KSC Fueling Team successfully loaded NASA’s WMAP in SAEF2 on June 3-4, 2001. The operation went very well and we exactly hit their target load weight of 19 gallons and a pressure of 308 psia.

Comet Nucleus TOUR (CONTOUR)

The KSC Fueling team had to take the show on the road to John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in January 2002. Testing began with a water-load (demineralized water), afterwards the spacecraft underwent vibration testing and was moved to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for thermal/vacuum and acoustic testing. The water was offloaded using the “emergency offload procedure” and dried the spacecraft propulsion system using a combination of nitrogen pulse-purges and vacuum-pumping.

The spacecraft arrived at KSC’s SAEF2 processing facility and on June 6, 2002 was loaded with 18 gallons total high-purity hydrazine into the two propellant tanks and pressurized with nitrogen to 325 psia


On June 29, 2004, the KSC Fueling Team loaded 42 gallons of N204 into the spacecraft oxidizer tank. On July 1, 2004, 96 gallons of hydrazine was loaded into three spacecraft tanks.

New Horizons

On December 4, 2005, approximately 20 gallons of hydrazine was loaded on board the spacecraft to guide it on its ten-year journey to Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects beyond.

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006.

Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS)

The propellants team fueled NASA’s five probes of the THEMIS mission on January 4, 2007. Each probe contained 12.8 gallons of hydrazine evenly divided into two tanks.

We believe this operation set a record for the most tanks (10) filled in a continuous operation without conducting any intermediate connections or disconnections

Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)

Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) project is managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center and was built by Northrop Grumman. The propellants team loaded 80.2 gallons of hydrazine into LCROSS on April 15, 2009. LCROSS will be launched with LRO on June 18, 2009.

The Mission Objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) are to advance the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) by confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The propellants team loaded 235 gallons of hydrazine into LRO on April 22, 2009. LRO was launched with LCROSS on June 18, 2009.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission emphasizes the overall objective of obtaining data that will facilitate returning humans safely to the Moon and enable extended stays.

Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS)

The propellants team loaded hydrazine into the two STSS spacecraft on August 16, 2009.

STSS is a heterogeneous constellation of low-earth orbit satellites that will detect and provide critical tracking information about ballistic missiles globally. STSS is a mission of the US Missile Defense Agency.

Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO)

Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) – was built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. During early January 2010, the KSC propellants team loaded 158 gallons of N2O4 and 163 gallons of MMH, and helium pressurant into this large spacecraft.

SDO is designed to help us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.