SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 19, 2010 – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, successfully completed a second series of vibration and altitude hot-fire tests on its 160-pound thrust mono-propellant rocket engine planned for use on NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
Aerojet is providing all of the engines for Orion’s crew and service modules for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor to NASA for developing the Orion crew exploration vehicle as the nation’s next generation spacecraft for future exploration throughout our solar system.
The objective of the test program was to characterize further engine performance after the thruster was subjected to Orion crew module vibration loads which are higher than the engine had been previously tested. Vibration loads applied to the thruster produced energy levels that were three times the previously qualified levels, signifying the engine’s robust design capability to withstand substantially higher vibration loads. The post-vibration altitude hot-fire test sequences mapped the thruster health over its full operating range ensuring that the engine meets its mission performance requirements after being subjected to Orion vibration loads during launch.
The hot-fire test program fully demonstrated the capability to reach at least 175 pounds of thrust during steady-state firing, thereby showing an Orion contingency operation during an abort mission. The firing sequences included 40 millisec. and 120 millisec. pulse mode tests as well as steady-state firings of five seconds and longer, to demonstrate engine performance health. The first firing sequence was a seven second steady-state firing at a feed pressure matching the maximum expected operating pressure (MEOP) with the thruster at ambient temperature to ensure the test sequence started at all possible firing conditions following an abort.
The testing met all objectives, providing additional confidence that Orion’s crew module engine will meet all applicable performance requirements after being subjected to Orion abort vibration loads. “This recent testing helps close an identified risk and provides confidence that Aerojet’s MR-104 design for Orion meets or exceeds the abort mission requirements,” said Doug Cosens, Aerojet’s Orion program director. “This effort also illustrates continued excellent cooperation among Aerojet, Lockheed Martin and NASA on the Orion project.”
The current Orion crew module flight configuration includes 12 MR-104G engines operating at 160 pounds of thrust. The MR-104 engine family originally provided in-space propulsion for the Voyager 1 and 2 and Magellan missions, and subsequent MR-104 variants provided propulsion for Landsat and NOAA as well as other U.S. government programs.
Aerojet is part of the nationwide Orion industry team led by Lockheed Martin, which also includes five major subcontractors and an expansive network of minor subcontractors and small businesses working at 88 facilities in 28 states across the country.
Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, defense and armaments markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems with a real estate segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale, and leasing of the company’s excess real estate assets. Additional information about Aerojet and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ Web sites at http://www.Aerojet.com and http://www.GenCorp.com.