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Satnews Daily
March 1st, 2017

Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Sends Secret Satellite Skyward for National Reconnaissance Office

Aerojet Rocketdyne again assists with the launch of another rocket that today is on a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, the following is their statement.

An RL10 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center with cutaway showing tubing
through the bell

Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully supported the launch of a classified payload for the US National Reconnaissance Office. The mission was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems on the Atlas V included the RL10C-1 upper-stage engine, six helium pressurization tanks, and 12 Centaur upper-stage Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters.

“National security is imperative to the safe and secure future of our country and its citizens,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “It’s truly gratifying to know that the propulsion systems our employees build here at Aerojet Rocketdyne are helping to keep this country – and the brave military men and women protecting it overseas – safe from harm. Congratulations to all on another successful launch.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10C-1 upper-stage engine ignited after separation of the first stage to place the payload into orbit, helped by the Centaur RCS thrusters and pressurization tanks. The RL10C-1 delivers 22,890 pounds of thrust to power the Atlas V upper stage, using cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.

The RL10C-1 was developed from the RL10 family of upper-stage engines, which has accumulated one of the most impressive track records of accomplishments in the history of space propulsion. More than 475 RL10 engines have supported launches over the last 50 years, playing a vital role in placing military, government and commercial satellites into orbit, and powering scientific space probes on every interplanetary mission in our solar system.

The 12 MR-106 RCS thrusters are assembled in four rocket engine modules and provide pitch, yaw and roll control for the Centaur upper stage as well as settling burns prior to firing the RL10C-1 engine. ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, manufactures the pressure vessels on the first and second stages of the launch vehicle.