SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp company (NYSE:GY), announced today that its dual AJ26 main engine system successfully boosted the Antares rocket on the inaugural flight of Orbital Sciences Corporation's (NYSE:ORB) Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) mission carrying the Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff occurred at 10:50 a.m. from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pad 0A located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
This successful launch and subsequent orbit insertion validate that private industry collaboration can establish capabilities and provide services that open new space markets, while meeting the ISS's logistics transportation needs. Under the upcoming Commercial Resupply Services contract, Orbital's Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft will make eight re-supply missions to the ISS.
"Today's successful launch is the result of collaboration between NASA and Orbital that began in 2008," said Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President of Space Launch Systems, Steve Bouley. "This achievement proves the capabilities not just of our engines, but of Orbital's entire launch system."
The AJ26 is a commercial derivative of the NK-33 engine that was first developed to power the Russian N-1 rocket on a lunar mission in the early 1970s. As an oxidizer-rich, staged-combustion, oxygen kerosene engine, it achieves very high performance in a lightweight, compact package.
"This historic day is exciting for all of us — not just for our company, but for our Russian partners and our Orbital customer," said Aerojet Rocketdyne Executive Director of Space Launch Systems, Pete Cova. "Today's mission highlights the power and reliability of these engines and we are very proud to be part of Orbital's team that will support our nation in bettering mankind through the science and research that our dedicated astronauts conduct at the International Space Station."
Orbital has developed the Antares medium-class launch vehicle to boost payloads into a variety of low-Earth and geosynchronous transfer orbits and to Earth escape trajectories. It incorporates proven technologies from a worldwide network of suppliers.
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, energy 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.