SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 12, 2014 – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, played a major role to successfully place a classified payload into orbit for the U.S. government with the inaugural launch of an RL10C-1 upper-stage engine. The mission was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, which also used Aerojet Rocketdyne helium pressurization tanks, four AJ60 solid rocket boosters and a dozen upper-stage thrusters used for roll, pitch, yaw and settling burns.
“The RL10C-1 performed exactly as expected,” said Steve Bouley, vice president of Space Launch Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “I’m confident that the latest configuration of the RL10 will carry forward the proud legacy of this dependable rocket engine that has served our nation for five decades.”
The RL10C-1 is a step toward the development of a common core upper-stage engine across ULA’s fleet of Atlas and Delta rockets – a move designed to reduce Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) lifecycle costs, while still maintaining outstanding reliability. It is an extension of the RL10 family, which has helped place numerous military, government and commercial satellites into orbit, and powered space-probe missions to nearly every planet in the solar system.
“These are the days in your career that you really cherish,” said Michael Popp, RL10C-1 program manager at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “Seeing the culmination of the team’s efforts to develop and qualify this configuration for use on the Atlas Centaur is very rewarding. I know the team takes a lot of pride in the RL10C-1 engine and we look forward to delivering affordable upper-stage propulsion for many years to come.”
The RL10C-1 is replacing the RL10A-4 variant upper-stage engine for the Single-Engine Centaur Upper Stage configuration of ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicle, which has been used on Atlas rockets for more than 20 years. The RL10C-2 engine, currently under development at Aerojet Rocketdyne, will use the RL10C core engine and replace the RL10B-2 variant, presently used on the Delta IV launch vehicle, in the 2019 time frame.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s role in the launch primarily revolved around the Centaur upper stage operation when a single RL10C-1 engine ignited to place the payload into orbit. The RL10C-1 engine delivered 22,890 pounds of thrust to power the Atlas V upper-stage, using cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants during its operation. ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, provided the pressure vessels on the first and second stages of the launch vehicle.
Twelve Aerojet Rocketdyne monopropellant (hydrazine) thrusters in four modules on the Atlas V Centaur upper stage provided roll, pitch and yaw control as well as settling burns for the upper stage.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at www.Rocket.com and www.GenCorp.com.