Aerojet Rocketdyne recently demo'd the highest chamber pressure of any United States produced liquid oxygen and kerosene main combustion system—this milestone occurred during a series of successful test firings of the AR1’s staged combustion system at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.
Preparations for the staged-combustion testing started at Stennis last summer and pushed the limits of the nation’s premier large engine development test facility. During this testing, Aerojet Rocketdyne combined the engine’s preburner with the main injector in order to validate injector design parameters and performance.
The AR1 engine is being developed as a replacement for Russian-made engines currently used on domestic rockets. AR1 is a 500,000 lbf thrust-class liquid oxygen/kerosene booster engine that incorporates the latest advances in rocket engine technology, materials science and modern manufacturing techniques to deliver an affordable, reliable booster engine quickly.
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake stated that staged-combustion testing is a critical step in proving the company's design for AR1 and reestablishing US preeminence in hydrocarbon space launch propulsion. She added that the company has been working diligently on the AR1 program since 2014 and remains on target to deliver a flight-qualified AR1 engine in 2019, as promised. The latest testing validates the flight design and provides high confidence as the company moves further into AR1 engine manufacturing.