Advanced Electric Propulsion Thruster for NASA’s Gateway Achieves Full Power Demonstration

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System thruster demonstrates full power operation at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 08, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA recently demonstrated an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster at full power for the first time, achieving an important program milestone. Aerojet Rocketdyne-developed AEPS thrusters are slated to be used on the Power and Propulsion Element of NASA’s Gateway, the agency’s orbiting lunar outpost for robotic and human exploration operations in deep space.

(more…)

NASA Attaches First of 4 RS-25 Engines to Artemis I Rocket Stage

An RS-25 engine is installed on the first Space Launch System core. (Credit: NASA/Jude Guidry)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have structurally mated the first of four RS-25 engines to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will help power the first Artemis mission to the Moon.

Integration of the RS-25 engines to the recently completed core stage structure is a collaborative, multistep process for NASA and its partners Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-25 engines lead contractor. To complete the installation, the technicians will now integrate the propulsion and electrical systems. 

The installation process will be repeated for each of the four RS-25 engines. The four RS-25 engines used for Artemis I were delivered to Michoud from Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in June.

The engines, located at the bottom of the core stage in a square pattern, are fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. During launch and flight, the four engines will fire nonstop for 8.5 minutes, emitting hot gases from each nozzle 13 times faster than the speed of sound. The completed core stage with all four engines attached will be the largest rocket stage NASA has built since the Saturn V stages for the Apollo Program.

NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and supplies to the Moon on a single mission.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace to Provide Flexible Access to Space

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne/Firefly Aerospace PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly) are pleased to announce a cooperative agreement that combines the capabilities of both companies to provide flexible, sustainable and highly competitive space access solutions.

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Firefly will serve the growing government and commercial market by providing dedicated small and medium launch capabilities to low Earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and the Moon. This collaboration will leverage Firefly’s new family of launch vehicles and in-space services with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s experience in propulsion development, additive manufacturing and mission assurance for commercial, national security and exploration missions.

(more…)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Teams with NASA to Develop Novel Rocket Engine Technology

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Oct. 8, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne has entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to design and manufacture a lightweight rocket engine thrust chamber assembly using innovative additive manufacturing processes and materials. The goal of the project is to reduce manufacturing costs and make a thrust chamber that is easily scalable to support a variety of missions, including America’s return to the Moon and subsequent missions to explore Mars.

(more…)

NASA Joins Last of Five Sections for Space Launch System Rocket Stage

NASA finished assembling the main structural components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans fully integrated the last piece of the 212-foot-tall core stage by adding the engine section to the rest of the previously assembled structure. Boeing technicians bolted the engine section to the stage’s liquid hydrogen propellant tank. (Credit: NASA/Steven Seipel)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — NASA finished assembling and joining the main structural components for the largest rocket stage the agency has built since the Saturn V that sent Apollo astronauts to the Moon. Engineers at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans connected the last of the five sections of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. The stage will produce 2 million pounds of thrust to send Artemis I, the first flight of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon.

(more…)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers Jettison Motor for Artemis 1 Mission

The Orion jettison motor for Artemis 1 is prepped for shipment by an Aerojet Rocketdyne engineering technician at the company’s facility in Orange, Virginia. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne’s jettison motor to be integrated into Lockheed Martin-built Orion Spacecraft
  • The jettison motor pulls Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) away from the crew module in the unlikely event of a launch anomaly to ensure astronaut safety
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne is contracted to supply the jettison motor for Orion’s LAS through Artemis 2

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Aerojet Rocketdyne has delivered the jettison motor for NASA’s Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) to Lockheed Martin in anticipation of Artemis 1, the first integrated flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion.

(more…)











A Look at the Payloads in Falcon Heavy’s STP-2 Mission

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy begins its first flight. (Credit: NASA)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), is targeting launch on June 24, 2019, with the launch window opening at 11:30 p.m. ET. Lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this mission will deliver 24 satellites to space on the DoD’s first ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.

The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, a final propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours. In addition, the U.S. Air Force plans to reuse side boosters from the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy launch, recovered after a return to launch site landing, making it the first reused Falcon Heavy ever flown for the U.S. Air Force.
(more…)











NASA Taps 11 American Companies to Advance Human Lunar Landers

Artist’s conception of lunar lander (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program. This effort will help put American astronauts — the first woman and next man — on the Moon’s south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028.

(more…)











Report: Blue Origin Wins Engine Contract for ULA’s Vulcan Booster

BE-4 staged combustion testing (Credit: Blue Origin)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Blue Origin has won a contract from United Launch Alliance to supply BE-4 engines for United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan launch vehicle. An announcement is expected today.

The decision would be a defeat for Aerojet Rocketdyne, which has been developing the AR1 engine.

The long-term, potentially multibillion-dollar agreement could provide a boost to Blue Origin’s eventual goal of becoming a major military launch provider itself. The company plans to use the same engines to power its own heavy-lift launcher, called New Glenn, which is currently under development.

Competition in the satellite-launch business is heating up. The Air Force is considering how to divvy up hundreds of millions of federal dollars to develop a fleet of lower-cost, more versatile rockets. Blue Origin, United Launch, Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Innovation Systems unit, formerly known as Orbital ATK, are all in the running. The Air Force is preparing to shortly announce the first-stage winners….

Negotiations between United Launch and Blue Origin dragged on for months, with both sides bargaining hard over price, delivery schedules and production reliability. Other hurdles, according to two people familiar with the details, included United Launch’s concerns about relying on a prospective rival for its most important engine supply. It couldn’t be learned what provisions were hammered out.

Blue Origin beat out Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., which had sought to sell its AR1 engine as the primary propulsion system for the Vulcan. A spokesman for Aerojet, which previously was picked to provide smaller, upper-stage engines for the ULA rocket, said “we are committed” to the AR1 engine and “will have a test-ready engine in 2019.” The spokesman also said that regardless of the decision, Aerojet’s “liquid engine business is thriving,” and the AR1 remains an option for possible smaller launch vehicles on the drawing board.











Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Powers OSIRIS-REx’s Approach of Asteroid Bennu

This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

  • All 28 of the rocket engines on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft are provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
  • Onboard delta-v thrusters will slow the spacecraft’s speed by more than 1,000 mph to match Bennu’s velocity and enable a safe arrival.
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion will maneuver OSIRIS-REx around the circumference of Bennu for more than a year for surveying and mapping before descending to the surface to take a sample, and then accelerating the spacecraft back to Earth for its return.

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 24, 2018 (Aerojet Rocketdyne) — Powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion, OSIRIS-REx’s long-awaited approach of Asteroid Bennu has officially begun. With the asteroid now in sight, the spacecraft’s onboard thrusters will begin to conduct a number of approach maneuvers to match Bennu’s orbital velocity to prepare for arrival on Dec. 3.

(more…)











Orion Jettison Motor Ready for Crew Escape System Test

Aerojet Rocketdyne technicians inspect the Jettison Motor for the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) at its facility in Sacramento, Calif. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently passed a key milestone in preparation for the Ascent Abort Test (AA-2) next year with the successful casting of the Jettison Motor for the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS).

(more…)











Phantom Express Engine Testing Advances

The engine is being tested for Boeing’s Phantom Express, which is a DARPA-funded project focused on developing a low-cost, reusable satellite launch vehicle capable of launching 10 times in 10 days.











Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests Re-generatively Cooled, 3D Printed RL-10 Thrust Chamber

A re-generatively cooled, 3-D printed thrust chamber assembly for the next generation of RL10 rocket engines undergoes hot-fire testing at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 13, 2018 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing a series of hot-fire tests of an advanced, next-generation RL10 engine thrust chamber design that was built almost entirely using additive manufacturing; commonly known as 3-D printing.

(more…)











DOD Awards $69.8 Million More to Aerojet Rocketdyne for AR-1, RL-10CX Development

Staged-combustion testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for the AR1 program is being developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WASHINGTON, DC (DOD PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, California, has been awarded a $69,804,323 modification (P00014) to a previously awarded other transaction agreement (FA8811-16-9-0003) for the development of the AR1 booster engine and the RL10CX upper stage engine for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.

This action implements Section 1604 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2015, which requires the development of a next-generation rocket propulsion system that will transition away from the use of non-allied space launch engines to a domestic alternative for National Security Space launches.

Work will be performed in Canoga Park, California; Sacramento, California; Centennial, Colorado; Huntsville, Alabama; Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. The work on the AR1 is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2019, and the work on the RL10CX is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2021.

Fiscal 2017 research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds in the amount of $63,014,148; and fiscal 2018 RDT&E funds in the amount of $20,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award. The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, California, is the contracting activity.