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2010: A Busy Year for Aerojet

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 22, 2011
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Aerojet's AJ26 engine successfully tested for Taurus II space launch vehicle. (PRNewsFoto/Aerojet)

The FAA’s 2011 U.S. Commercial Space Transportation Developments and Concepts: Vehicles, Technologies, and Spaceports report highlights what a busy year it was for Aerojet in 2010. The company’s work included propulsion development for the DOD, NASA’s Orion program, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II rocket, and a pair of innovative technology programs. The company also tested an advanced solid fuel for ramjets with potential commercial applications.

The relevant section from the report is after the break.

Bi-propellant, Mono-propellant, and Solid Rockets  – Aerojet

Aerojet contracts with the Department of Defense on rocket development and is also providing multiple engines to Lockheed Martin for NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule. In 2010, Aerojet met milestones on these contracts and has delivered, tested, or begun development on several new and modified engines.

On July 15, Aerojet delivered an AJ26 oxygen kerosene engine to NASA’s Stennis Space Center for testing. Orbital Sciences Corporation will use this engine for the Taurus II launch vehicle. The AJ26 engine is a commercial derivative of the Russian NK-33 engine designed and built in the late 1960s. The AJ26 is the world’s first oxidizer-rich, staged-combustion, kerosene engine.

In spring of 2010, Aerojet completed testing of a liquid-oxygen, liquid-methane technology demonstration rocket. Aerojet developed the engine to test new technologies under the NASA Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development Project. The engine provides 22,241 newtons (5,500 pounds) of thrust at about 350 seconds of specific impulse. Aerojet completed sea-level test firings in the summer of 2009 and conducted altitude testing at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in 2010. This engine may lead to systems that enable long-duration, in-space cryogenic propellant storage or propellant harvesting on Mars.

Aerojet, with support from Florida Turbine Technologies, provided the Air Force Research Laboratory with a liquid-hydrogen turbopump technology demonstrator. The pump rotates at 90,000 revolutions per minute and is outfitted with sensors to monitor performance. Aerojet announced the development in 2010, and testing will continue into FY 2011.

In 2010, Aerojet announced successful ground tests of an advanced solid ramjet fuel. The fuel is from a family of fuels collectively called AerGenâ„¢. Solid ramjet fuel provides an alternative to traditional liquid ramjet fuels for tactical missiles and other applications that require storable fuel. The fuel was tested in a full-scale engine within a simulated high-altitude and high-speed environment. AerGenâ„¢ is designed for throttleable ramjets and burns efficiently, increasing energy and reducing smoke. AerGenâ„¢ may be applicable to other solid fuel applications, including solid rocket motors, hybrid motors, and commercial ramjets.

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