Aerojet Rocketdyne is a member of the Boeing team that recently announced an agreement to collaborate with DARPA to design, build and test a technology demonstrator for the agency’s XS-1 program. The reusable experimental spaceplane is designed to deliver small satellites into orbit with high launch responsiveness. The main propulsion is based on the legacy space shuttle main engines (SSME).
For the XS-1 program, Aerojet Rocketdyne is providing two engines with legacy shuttle flight experience to demonstrate reusability, a wide operating range and rapid turnarounds. These engines will be designated as AR-22 engines and will be assembled from parts that remained in both Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA inventories from early versions of the SSME engines. Assembly and ground testing will take place at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
According to Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake, as one of the world’s most reliable rocket engines, the SSME is a smart choice to power the XS-1 launch vehicle. This engine has a demonstrated track record of solid performance and proven reusability. As threats to our nation’s space systems increase, it is imperative that the ability to rapidly deploy replacement assets is available. This demonstration program is vitally important to maintaining assured access to space, which remains a top priority for this nation.