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Satnews Daily
May 23rd, 2018

Aerojet Rocketdyne Heats Up for Lunar Robotic Missions With Low-Cost, High Thrust Space Engine 

Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully conducted a hot-fire testing of a new in-space engine, ISE-100, developed for commercial in-space applications,  that has the potential to be a critical element for future lunar robotic missions. Producing 100 pounds of thrust, the ISE engine has the capability to provide downward thrust during landing, easing spacecraft down to the lunar surface.

Hot-fire test of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ISE-100 thruster conducted at the company’s Redmond, Washington test facility

ISE-100 is the latest in-space engine developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, added to the portfolio of mission-proven thrusters that have propelled spacecraft to every planet in the solar system and interstellar space, and provided landing propulsion for Mars and asteroid missions. Utilizing MON-25/MMH propellants, the ISE-100 is an affordable and dependable engine option for commercial operators to power spacecraft. MON-25 is a high performance storable oxidizer with a low freezing point that is particularly well suited to deep space environments. Another element of the low cost design approach is the engine’s additively manufactured Titanium injector, which completed the entire test series without anomaly.

During the test program, the engine successfully accumulated 75 individual tests, 774 pulses and more than 500 seconds of hot-fire time. Key tests performed in this program included multiple long duration steady state burns; multiple short pulse trains; and a long endurance duty cycle, representative of potential robotic lunar lander missions. 

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake commented that as the nation sets its sights back on the Moon, Aerojet Rocketdyne stands ready to support commercial and NASA endeavors with reliable and affordable propulsion systems, like their new ISE-100 engine.

The ISE-100 engine will now move from the development phase to the certification phase where it will undergo additional configuration testing with flight qualified materials.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Vice President of Advanced Space Programs Julie Van Kleeck added that they’ve developed and demonstrated an engine that is low cost, high performance and capable of landing payloads on the Moon.