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Satnews Daily
March 6th, 2017

Thrusting first time for a NextGen... Aerojet Rocketdyne's electric engines enable Intelsat's 33e to be operational 

It's a first, Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc.'s , a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), 100-volt fuel-efficient electric propulsion subsystem has enabled Intelsat's Epic Next Generation (EpicNG) satellite to become operational. The NextGen satellite launched in the summer is now online, fully functional. Intelsat 33e represents the inaugural mission of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s 100-volt fuel-efficient electric propulsion subsystem. This improved fuel efficiency reduces propellant mass by several hundred pounds, helping to enable the high throughput capability of this new Intelsat Epic Next Generation (EpicNG) satellite.

The launch was in summer, and now the system is officially online. Aerojet Rocketdyne's rocket engines are now providing in-flight maneuvers for the Intelsat 33e communications satellite, that was launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana on August 24. Boeing Satellite Systems International, which built the satellite, has announced that the spacecraft is now operational. 

The electric propulsion subsystem provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne includes a 4.4kW power processing unit, relay box, electrical harnessing and six 2.2kW MR-510 electric arcjet thrusters. Aerojet Rocketdyne has flown more than 170 MR-510 arcjet thrusters with 100 percent mission success. Intelsat 33e is the second of six Intelsat EpicNG satellites being built by Boeing. Intelsat EpicNG is a high performance, next generation satellite platform that delivers global high-throughput capability. Intelsat 33e offers coverage in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

In addition to the electric propulsion subsystem, Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion on the Intelsat 33e mission includes 16 monopropellant rocket engines: 12 four-Newton MR-111C hydrazine and four 22-Newton MR-106L hydrazine engines, all of which provide attitude control and adjustment, east-west stationkeeping, spin control, decommissioning and settling burns. The MR-111 and MR-106 engines have extensive flight history, each with more than 2,000 flight thrusters delivered with 100 percent mission success. 

The remaining three Intelsat EpicNG satellites, also being built by Boeing, will all include the same complement of six Aerojet Rocketdyne electric propulsion thrusters for north-south stationkeeping, and 16 hydrazine rocket engines.

President Eileen Drake Aerojet Rocketdyne's CEO said, “Congratulations to all on another successful Intelsat mission, and the first mission for the 100-volt electric propulsion thrusters. “We are honored to continue our valued relationship with Boeing and to help enable the high throughput capability of the new Intelsat EpicNG satellites.”