Butte AeroTec Facility

MADA manages and operates the Butte AeroTec Facility, a new advanced energy and aerospace technology test and evaluation center. MADA commissioned Butte AeroTec in March 2009 by initiating a series of hybrid rocket motor tests for Space Propulsion Group (SPG), Inc. of Sunnyvale, CA. SPG is a Stanford University affiliated company that is developing hybrid rocket motor technology under contract to the U.S. Air Force. SPG’s hybrid rocket technology utilizes a paraffin wax/liquid oxygen propellant, making the technology much safer and more environmentally benign than other rocket propellants. SPG is currently testing an 11 in. diameter version of the motor at Butte AeroTec, including a “Flight-Weight” version that utilizes an advanced carbon composite motor casing material.

Butte AeroTec Facility

A rocket anchored to the ground at the Butte AeroTec facility consumes fuel made with candle wax and liquid oxygen.

The Butte AeroTec Facility involves a public-private partnership which includes MADA, SPG, Rhodia, Inc., State of Montana, City-County of Butte Silver Bow, Universal Technical Resource Services, Inc. (UTRS), Montana Economic Revitalization and Development Institute (MERDI), Butte Local Development Corporation (BLDC), Port of Montana, and Bert Mooney Airport Authority. The establishment of Butte AeroTec involved the re-location of aerospace propulsion test hardware from Mojave, CA to Butte, MT, as well as the modification of existing facilities at Rhodia Corporation’s former Butte, MT phosphorous production facility. The State of Montana funded the relocation of the test hardware from Mojave to Butte; and the City-County of Butte-Silver Bow has funded the development of new infrastructure at Butte AeroTec. Additionally, Butte AeroTec has been conducting Solid Fuel RamJet and Ammonia Fuels technology development and testing for the Montana Department of Commerce and Fuel Systems Safety Testing for the Virgin Galactic Corporation/Scaled Composites, Inc. SpaceShip II Commercial Space Vehicle.

The commissioning of Butte AeroTec represents a significant milestone in MADA’s initiative to make advanced energy and aerospace technology a significant part of Montana’s economy. MADA and its partners are now offering Butte AeroTec and its services as a user-friendly/low-cost alternative test and evaluation facility for advanced energy and aerospace technology customers.


Butte AeroTec Facility Hybrid Rocket Motor Test.