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Satnews Daily
August 8th, 2019

Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Pushes AEHF-5 to Orbit

From the five AJ-60A solid rocket motors that provided a combined 1.7 million lbs. of added liftoff thrust for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, to the XR-5 Hall Thrusters used to steer the spacecraft in orbit, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided a variety of propulsion systems to support the successful delivery of the fifth Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) satellite to orbit for the U.S. Air Force.

In addition to the five AJ-60A solid rocket motors that helped to lift the Atlas V off the launch pad, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1 rocket engine that provided 22,900 lbs. of thrust to propel the rocket’s Centaur upper stage. The company also built the MR-106 reaction control system thrusters that provided upper stage pitch, yaw and roll control. Composite overwrapped pressure vessels that store high-pressure fluids used to support operation of the Atlas V and Centaur were manufactured by ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Onboard the AEHF-5 spacecraft, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided electric XR-5 Hall Thruster strings and monopropellant rocket engines that steer the spacecraft through its mission, including safely deorbiting the satellite at the end of its service life. The XR-5 Hall Thrusters on AEHF satellites enable a propellant mass savings in excess of 2,000 lbs. when compared to performing the mission with all chemical propulsion.

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake said helping to launch critical assets into orbit that provides the nation and its allies with secure, global communications is an important mission that the Aerojet Rocketdyne team takes very seriously. The company's propulsion systems support this mission from the launch pad to orbit to final end-of-life decommissioning of the satellite. The propellant mass savings enabled by the firm's XR-5 Hall Thrusters provides end users with more flexibility when planning spacecraft missions. Aerojet Rocketdyne has provided more than 550 electric propulsion thrusters on more than 200 spacecraft.