From 100 percent mission success on Delta and Atlas launches, to propelling spacecraft to the Sun and Mars and modernizing our nation’s defense, Aerojet Rocketdyne continued to make history during 2018. Here are some key successes...
Preparing for the Next Era of Space Flight, Pushing the Boundaries of Space
- Successfully fired the AR-22 rocket engine an unprecedented 10 times in 10 days, demonstrating the feasibility of a reusable spaceplane capable of high-tempo flight operations.
- Powered every phase of NASA’s Mars InSight lander’s journey to the red planet — launch, cruise, entry and landing. All eight successful landings on Mars have relied on Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion.
- NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, launched with the company's RS-68A and RL10 engines, is using Aerojet Rocketdyne’s propulsion system to enable the probe’s 7-year journey to within 6.2 million kilometers of the Sun’s surface — eight times closer than the previous record.
- Aerojet Rocketdyne provided all 28 rocket engines on OSIRIS-REx, the asteroid sample-return probe that recently arrived at Asteroid Bennu. In addition to powering the launch vehicle’s main and second stages, Aerojet Rocketdyne is providing critical in-space propulsion. The firm's thrusters enabled braking maneuvers to support the arrival and will maneuver the spacecraft during its year of close-proximity science operations, and enable its journey back to Earth’s orbit.
- Announced contracts in April and May that assure the RL10 cryogenic upper stage engine, variants of which have been operating for more than 50 years, will continue flying on two new rockets intended for U.S. government and commercial customers. Future versions will integrate additively manufactured components to enhance affordability and maintain reliability.
- Continued to make progress in moving toward first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System, as well as building an inventory of RS-25 main engine components including new, upgraded flight controllers for the first four flights of the heavy-lift rocket. Among other modernized RS-25 components being qualified is a main combustion chamber fabricated using “hot isostatic pressing,” that improves reliability while reducing costs, and an additively manufactured Pogo accumulator assembly. In addition, we completed initial qualification testing of the jettison motors and reaction control system for the Orion spacecraft.
- Delivered 12 control thrusters for Boeing’s Starliner crew module, which is designed to transport astronauts to LEO destinations. Aerojet Rocketdyne-supplied MR-104J thrusters, each delivering 100 pounds of thrust, will be used to orient the spacecraft during atmospheric re-entry.
Supporting our Warfighters, Providing for a Modern Defense
- Successfully tested a new dual-mode ramjet/scramjet engine, that when combined with a gas turbine engine as part of a turbine-based combined cycle propulsion system, may provide the capability to propel a vehicle from a standstill into the hypersonic flight regime of Mach 5 or higher and back again.
- Completed two hot-fire tests of an advanced tactical booster conditioned to mimic extreme cold- and hot-soak conditions for air-launch application. The solid rocket motors, designed to accelerate a vehicle during its initial phase of flight, were tested at extreme temperatures to verify they will perform as expected across the full range of anticipated operational conditions.
- Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded a Phase I contract to develop a prototype torpedo propulsion system. The Torpedo Advanced Propulsion System program’s goal is to improve the engine efficiency of the U.S. Navy’s MK48 Heavyweight Torpedo.
- Announced $50 million expansion plan for our Solid Rocket Motor Center of Excellence in Camden, Arkansas. Infrastructure improvements and additional hiring will enable an increase in the volume of solid rocket motors produced at the site for tactical and missile defense systems, and provide the capability to build large solid rocket motors in Camden for our nation’s strategic defense requirements.
- Supported multiple flight tests of Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 Block IIA guided missile system, designed to further prove the effectiveness of the larger and faster SM-3 Block IIA variant in intercepting a medium range ballistic missile. Two recent tests conducted in October and December within 60 days of each other underscored the reliability of our booster and Throttling Divert and Attitude Control System.
- Successfully completed hot fire altitude testing of our Divert and Attitude Control System Center Manifold for the Missile Defense Agency’s Redesigned Kill Vehicle. The test validated Aerojet Rocketdyne’s unique technology and marked a major milestone.
- An upgraded insensitive explosive was successfully tested to support the Mk-82 500-lb. and Mk-83 1,000-lb. general purpose bombs. The explosive provides the same lethality as the current PBXN-109 explosive, but has characteristics that make it less susceptible to unintended detonation, making both warheads much safer to store and handle.
For more on the space and defense missions Aerojet Rocketdyne has supported this year, visit www.rocket.com.