Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed their test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program.
This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle.
The HBTD program is developing key technologies for rocket engines that employ an ORSC engine cycle – the same cycle that is used for the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 engine – a potential replacement engine for the Russian RD-180. The reusable HBTD demonstrator engine is a 250,000 lbf thrust class engine that is capable of up to 100 flights, and features high-performance, long-life technologies and modern materials.
Joe Burnett, Aerojet Rocketdyne program manager of the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program. reported that throughout testing last fall, the company steadily increased the speed of the pump; starting with bump tests to verify the pump was behaving as the firm predicted. The device has been successfully operated multiple times at full power, which is over 75,000 rpm; the fastest speed for any hydrocarbon pump to date. The sheer amount of data being gathered will help the rocket engine community better understand this pump, and its capabilities, when integrated into the turbomachinery assembly in the near future. Having completed testing on two units also gives us some insight to pump-to-pump variability as well.”
Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president, added that the Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator program is key to enabling our country to demonstrate a state-of-the-art ORSC engine with components that include modern materials that are built using advanced manufacturing techniques. What is being learned through this program will be instrumental as other engines, such as the AR1 engine, are developed using this same engine cycle.”
The AFRL Rocket Lab is the singular space and missile propulsion R&D organization for the Air Force. As part of the Aerospace Systems directorate of AFRL, its mandate is to lead, discover, develop and transition rocket propulsion technologies to the Air Force, industry, and the Nation to maintain the US’s space supremacy. Performing activities from basic research through in-house work and academia up to full scale technology demonstrators through R&D contracts, the AFRL Rocket Lab pursues technology solutions to current and future challenges .