SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 23, 2011 – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that ESA Spacecraft PR6-2011 (Johannes Kepler) – the second of five European Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) – successfully launched aboard the European expendable launch system, Ariane 5, out of Kourou in French Guiana.
For the ATV mission, Aerojet delivered four model R-4D-11 110 lbf bipropellant rocket engines that are used to accomplish the circularization maneuvers and approach to docking with the International Space Station (ISS). When preliminary orbit was achieved, the ATV engines operated to place the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit after which a second firing was used to circularize the vehicle’s orbit. Once in circular orbit, the ATV uses the model R-4D engines to provide the main propulsion and braking in its approach to the ISS. At the completion of the mission, the R-4D main engines will again be used for the de-orbit maneuver.
“Aerojet is pleased to support EADS Astrium and ESA in the ATV program,” said Carl Stechman, chief bipropellant engineer and Apollo-era veteran. “The successful launch of the Johannes Kepler transfer vehicle is critical to maintaining the viability of the ISS after the space shuttle retires.”
Aerojet's model R-4D 100 lbf force class bipropellant main engines are a derivative of the 32 engines flown on the Apollo lunar and service module. They are used for achieving orbit on many geosynchronous satellites and also will be used on the next-generation Orion Service Module. The four model R-4D engines were delivered to the prime contractor, EADS Astrium in Bremen, Germany, for use on the Johannes Kepler ATV.
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’ websites at http://www.Aerojet.com and http://www.GenCorp.com.