Aerojet updates

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Since they're producing AJ26 engines for Orbital's COTS entry I thought they should have their own updates thread, even if this story isn't directly related to that effort....

Date Released: Monday, June 14, 2010
Source: Aerojet

Aerojet and NEC Collaborate to Explore Low Power Ion Propulsion Systems for Satellites

Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, announced today that it has signed an agreement with NEC Corporation ( to jointly supply HAYABUSA-derived ion propulsion systems for the U.S. and Japanese aerospace markets. These ion propulsion systems provide significant advantages for geosynchronous satellites and deep space missions through fuel efficiencies over 10 times higher than those of conventional propulsion systems.

The HAYABUSA spacecraft successfully recovered a sample collection capsule which might contain a first-ever sample of an asteroid to earth on June 13 after a seven year journey. The ion propulsion system first powered the spacecraft on its 186 million mile journey to the surface of the asteroid Itokawa. Then, after a near catastrophic failure of the chemical propulsion and attitude control systems, with ingenuity and persistence, Japanese engineers used the ion propulsion system to recover the mission and return the sample. The HAYABUSA ion propulsion system was developed jointly by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NEC. The system uses microwaves to ionize the propellant and carbon fiber grids to accelerate it, enabling long life and high mission reliability.

"We congratulate NEC and JAXA on the successful and historic return of the capsule of HAYABUSA," said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet's vice president of Space and Launch Systems. "We are very excited by the opportunity to work with NEC to provide this system to a broader market." Aerojet's electric propulsion products are currently flying on more than 150 operational satellites.

"Aerojet is a leading supplier of satellite propulsion systems in the United States and has broad experience and technical capabilities with satellite propulsion systems," said Kunio Kondo, associate senior vice president, NEC Corporation. "Collaborating with Aerojet will help NEC to expand its low power Microwave Ion Engine business in the U. S. market."

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 and


Guest : Aerojet's Propellant-Saving Xenon Ion Thruster Exceeds 30,000 Hours of Operation
Date Released: Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Source: Aerojet

Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, announced today that its innovative ion propulsion engine - built in partnership between Aerojet and NASA's Glenn Research Center - has completed a test series encompassing the requirements of a wide range of ambitious space missions, including the recently announced Flagship Technology Demonstrator first mission (FTD-1).

The thruster was developed under NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) program as the next generation beyond the ion engines now propelling the Dawn spacecraft to a pair of asteroids. The NEXT engine has been in operation for more than 30,000 hours at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. By providing a small, constant thrust over long periods of time, the thruster accelerates spacecraft to thousands of kilometers per hour - all while using less than a tenth of the propellant of a conventional, chemically based rocket. Such efficiency will allow spacecraft to reach more interesting and more difficult scientific targets throughout the solar system.

With NASA now considering human flights to asteroids and even Mars, this critical capability greatly reduces the amount of propellant that must be used for a launch. "When we take humans to Mars, we will leverage advances in technology like this," said Mike Patterson, NEXT principal investigator and senior propulsion technologist at Glenn Research Center. "The NEXT system occupies a prominent place in our phased infrastructure development plan for Martian exploration, and is being considered for a flight experiment on future NASA Flagship missions."

In operation, the xenon ions are accelerated to speeds of up to 40,000 meters per second, making NEXT the latest and by far the most powerful in a class of high-efficiency ion thrusters propelling spacecraft on several science missions. However, this is little noticed outside the advanced space propulsion community.

NASA's Glenn Research Center manufactured the test engine's core ionization chamber. Aerojet designed and built the ion acceleration assembly, which is key to the long life and high performance of the thruster. This acceleration assembly has more than 25,000 holes precisely etched in a pair of thin plates 20 inches across, but separated by only a few thousandths of an inch. These plates must maintain their precise alignment and spacing while operated at high voltage and high temperatures.
"This is an incredible feat of engineering by our designers, building on decades of experience at NASA," said Andy Hoskins, Aerojet's technical principal for Electric Propulsion. "The performance of this engine demonstrates the breadth of Aerojet's capabilities and its commitment to provide the highest quality propulsion systems for any space mission."

The NEXT project is a joint technology and engineering development program led by NASA Glenn to develop a next generation electric propulsion system, including power processing, propellant management and other components. The project is being conducted under the In-Space Propulsion Technology Program at Glenn and managed by NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
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 and


Guest : Aerojet Redmond Awarded United Space Alliance's Coveted Space Flight Awareness Supplier Award
Date Released: Friday, July 9, 2010
Source: Aerojet - Comments Comments

Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, announced today that its Redmond operations has been awarded United Space Alliance's (USA) prestigious Space Flight Awareness Supplier Award.

With only 21 awards granted by USA throughout the last decade, this honor is granted to companies that consistently provide outstanding performance in support of NASA's human space flight programs. Aerojet was nominated by USA logistics engineer, Roy Good, and supported by USA's senior leadership panel. This award recognizes Aerojet for the company's exceptional performance throughout almost three decades of the nation's space shuttle program. Specifically, Aerojet received the award for distinguishing itself by demonstrating the highest level of product quality, excelling in technical and cost performance and adhering to challenging schedules.


Guest : NASA Glenn tests alternative green rocket engine
August 30, 2010

An extensive series of tests has been completed on a new rocket engine that will use a non-toxic propellant combination at NASA's Glenn Research Center. The reaction control engine that was tested provides 100 pounds of thrust and is typically used for spacecraft maneuvering.

The rocket engine, designed by Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif. uses methane and oxygen as propellants. These propellants are cryogenic liquids, or as cold as -238ºF, and are being investigated as a non-toxic alternative to more commonly used hypergolic fuels. Hypergolic fuels ignite easily and extreme care must be taken because the propellants can be highly toxic. The technology development's objective is to provide risk reduction data for this novel non-toxic propellant combination for this class of engines.


Guest : Aerojet Joins in New Outreach Effort by Becoming a Founding Sponsor of Explore Mars

Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/

-- Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it has become a founding sponsor of Explore Mars, a newly formed 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation created to promote science and technology innovation through outreach and education efforts related to human exploration of the planet Mars.

Through its sponsorship of the Mars Education Challenge and other Explore Mars initiatives, Aerojet hopes to expand public awareness and get more students interested in pursuing careers in engineering and science. Public outreach and STEM activities are both very important to Aerojet's role as a leading aerospace company.

Joe Cassady, Aerojet's business development capture lead for Exploration Programs, was also named by Explore Mars to serve as a board member. "Mars has always held a special fascination for me and I welcome the opportunity to represent Aerojet in Explore Mars and to help define the outreach efforts to get more educators and private citizens involved in its exploration," said Cassady.

"We are pleased to have Aerojet as a founding sponsor," said Explore Mars Executive Director, Chris Carberry. "Few other companies have as much passion and experience in advancing the exploration of Mars."

Explore Mars is a project-oriented nonprofit group created to promote science and technology innovation and education with a use for Mars exploration. Through a series of technology innovation awards, scientific symposiums and workshops, Mars analog work, technology demonstrations and other programs, Explore Mars will provide a platform for scientists and "citizen scientists" to engage in meaningful space exploration research and development in the private sector. More information on Explore Mars can be found on its Web site at

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 and

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Wiki : Aerojet : Explore Mars - about us
Explore Mars, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Donations to Explore Mars are tax-deductible.

You can Contact Us using our website or at the email address:

Explore Mars is a project-oriented non-profit group that was created to promote science and technology innovation and education related to Mars Exploration. Through a series of technology innovation awards, scientific symposiums and workshops, Mars analog work, technology demonstrations, and other programs, we provide a platform for scientists and "citizen scientists" to engage in meaningful space exploration research and development in the private sector.



Guest : Aerojet Successfully Conducts Third Jettison Motor Nozzle Risk Reduction Test for NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

Sept. 23, 2010

– Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it successfully conducted a static firing of the third nozzle risk reduction motor in support of the Orion jettison motor, a critical component of the launch abort system (LAS) for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. This successful test firing validates several nozzle design changes implemented to enhance the safety and reliability of the jettison motor.


Guest : Aerojet Delivers Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) Liquid Hydrogen Turbopump to AFRL

Sept. 28, 2010

– Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that under contract to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Propulsion Research Directorate, the company has developed critical technologies for rocket propulsion applications through the Upper Stage Engine Technologies (USET) program.

The USET program supports the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology (IHPRPT) Phase II Propellant Management Devices (PMD) and the Combustion and Energy Conversion Devices (C&ECD) technology areas for Boost & Orbit Transfer Propulsion. The program has developed computational capabilities and tools to validate and advance state-of-the-art turbopump rotating machinery for future upper-stage advanced cryogenic, liquid oxygen and hydrogen engines as well as for other engines. Florida Turbine Technologies, located in Jupiter, Fla., provided technical and fabrication support.

To support IHPRPT goals, the USET program has incorporated several technologies which will improve upper-stage engine developments methods and designs. These technologies have been incorporated into a liquid hydrogen, lightweight and high-speed turbopump delivered to AFRL. The primary program goal to develop advanced computational tools and methods to improve the capability to develop advanced 40K class upper-stage engines for the USAF was completed in 2007 and anchored through hydrogen-scaled water rig tests. The USET turbopump is designed to rotate at 90,000 rpm which is approximately two and one half times faster than the Space Shuttles Main Engines (SSME) high-pressure hydrogen turbopump while generating the equivalent stage pressure rise. The USET hydrogen turbopump is roughly the size of a swimming pool pump and could drain the average-size swimming pool in 12 minutes, if water was to replace the liquid hydrogen fuel.

The USET hydrogen turbopump is configured with more than 246 strain, acceleration, displacement, pressure and temperature instruments designed to measure the internal operational characteristic of the turbopump and utilized to ‘validate’ the computational tool set developed on the program.

“Aerojet is very pleased to have been chosen to contribute our rotating machinery heritage and analytical competencies along with our subcontractor, Florida Turbine Technologies,” said Vice President of Space and Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck. “We are prepared to meet our Air Force customers’ ultimate goal of developing the technology for existing and future systems to reduce launch costs, while increasing payload orbit reliability.”The USET turbopump integration and testing will take place in AFRL’s 2A test facility. Hydrogen testing is scheduled to extend into GFY 2011.


Guest : Aerojets Successful Main Engine Injector Tests Provide Milestone for NASAs Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

Sept. 30, 2010


– Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, under contract to Lockheed Martin, successfully completed development injector testing for the 7500-pound thrust Orion main engine (OME) for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. The OME is a pressure-fed, regeneratively cooled, storable bi-propellant engine that is a technically advanced, increased performance version of Aerojet’s flight-proven 6000-pound thrust space shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System Engine (OMS-E).

The test series verified the engine’s combustion stability and additionally provided chamber wall heat flux and injector performance data to anchor mathematical models. All testing was performed in heavy-weight combustion chambers specifically designed for these tasks. This early demonstration of the engine’s combustion stability at expected Orion operating conditions was conducted to retire risk to the Orion vehicle.

“The successful qualification combustion stability testing of the OME injector was the result of a structured approach used to design, analyze, build and test the first development injector,” said Aerojet’s Orion Program Manager, Cheryl Rehm. “The team’s meticulous attention to detail resulted in a product that met and exceeded our expectations.”

The OME injector combines the reliability and combustion stability of the OMS-E injector with current Aerojet best practices in design and manufacturing to reduce process variability affecting injector performance and cost for the Orion program. The OME injector is a diffusion-bonded platelet device with the same injector element type, face pattern layout, and element quantity as the OMS-E, but with improvements in the injector body design and platelets to provide more uniform flow to the injector elements.

The current Aerojet platelet manufacturing capability results in significantly less dimensional variability than was possible for the OMS-E, enabling improved uniformity of propellants injected into the combustion chamber. The improvements in injection uniformity are also expected to result in improved nominal and minimum vacuum specific impulse for the OME.

The OME will provide thrust for events requiring large velocity changes such as Earth orbital insertion, translunar/trans Earth injection, Earth de-orbit, and emergency thrust for high-altitude abort scenarios. Orion’s engine complement also includes 16 25-pound thrust engines and eight 100-pound-thrust bipropellant engines for the Orion service module. Additionally, Aerojet supplies 12 160-pound-thrust monopropellant thrusters for the Orion crew module. Aerojet is providing all of the engines for the Orion spacecraft which is comprised of a crew module for crew and cargo transport, and a service module for propulsion, electrical power and fluids storage. Risk reduction testing of critical subsystems has been ongoing throughout Orion’s development phase to maximize mission success and crew safety.


Guest : Aerojet Joins the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
By John Gedmark,

November 9th 2010

Washington, D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that Aerojet has joined the Federation. With over 3,000 employees nationwide including locations in California, Arkansas, Washington State, Virginia, New Mexico, Utah and Tennessee, the company is a leading provider of aerospace propulsion systems.

Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet’s Vice President for Space Programs, stated, “Aerojet welcomes the opportunity to join the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Joining CSF will enable Aerojet to work better with industry to serve NASA’s exploration programs and the expanding commercial space market.”

Van Kleeck continued, “Aerojet propulsion systems have flown on every U.S. human spaceflight mission. We are actively engaged in developing propulsion to power the next generation of human spaceflight systems – both launch vehicles and spacecraft. We’re proud of our work on Orion, EELV and a number of new commercial systems such as Taurus II and Sundancer. We are building on Aerojet’s proven capabilities in rocket engine and spacecraft propulsion development, human-rating, propulsion system verification, and operations to power the next generation of U.S. human space flight capabilities.”

Van Kleeck added, “Aerojet believes that affordability and innovation are key to the future of human space flight – and competition is fundamental to both. Aerojet’s membership in CSF will provide new opportunities to support NASA’s efforts to use safe, affordable and innovative commercial systems to transport crew to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) while NASA also continues to reach beyond LEO. We believe that NASA’s plans for new investments in propulsion systems are vital to spurring innovation, driving down cost and fostering both LEO access and human exploration beyond LEO.”

John Schumacher, Aerojet’s Vice President for Washington Operations, added, “Aerojet is at work to field new technologies for both launch and in-space propulsion that foster a new era of affordable, sustainable missions. CSF membership offers unique opportunities to work with other member companies to advance these efforts.”

Mark Sirangelo, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, commented, “On behalf of the member companies of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, we are proud to welcome Aerojet. Their expertise in propulsion technology is widely known and it’s a privilege to have them join the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.”

Bretton Alexander, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, added, “It is great to see the aerospace industry continue to unite behind a common goal of expanding our nation’s commercial space economy. Creating thousands of new high-tech jobs, enhancing our nation’s access to space, and exciting a new generation of young people to embark on science and technology careers are some of the benefits this growing industry aims to realize. The Federation is pleased to welcome the entire Aerojet team.”


Guest NASA Test Fires New Rocket Engine For Commercial Space Vehicle
Nov. 10, 2010

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi conducted a successful test firing Wednesday of the liquid-fuel AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Taurus II space launch vehicle. Orbital and its engine supplier, Aerojet, test-fired the engine on Stennis' E-1 test stand. The test directly supports NASA's partnerships to enable commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station.

The initial test, the first in a series of three firings, lasted 10 seconds and served as a short-duration readiness firing to verify AJ26 engine start and shutdown sequences, E-1 test stand operations, and ground-test engine controls.

The test was conducted by a joint operations team comprised of Orbital, Aerojet and Stennis engineers, with Stennis employees serving as test conductors. The joint operations team and other NASA engineers will conduct an in-depth data review of all subsystems in preparation for a 50-second hot-fire acceptance test scheduled several weeks from now. A third hot-fire test at Stennis also is planned to verify tuning of engine control valves.
... : Aerojet's AJ26 Flight Engine Successfully Hot-Fire Tested for Orbital's Taurus II Space Launch Vehicle
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --

Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced that its AJ26 engine was hot-fire tested today at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. In support of the Taurus(R) II launch vehicle program, Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital), Aerojet and NASA conducted this first of three hot-fire engine tests to be performed throughout the next several weeks.

Aerojet's AJ26 engine is an oxidizer-rich, staged-combustion LO2/Kerosene engine that achieves very high performance in a lightweight compact package. Based on the NK-33 engine originally designed and produced in Russia for the Russian N1 lunar launch vehicle, the liquid-fuel AJ26 will provide boost for the first stage of the Taurus II launch vehicle. The engine tested today is the first of four engines to be tested at Stennis throughout the next several months. This testing is being conducted to support the Taurus II Initial Launch Capability (ILC) in the third quarter of 2011.

Aerojet originally purchased approximately 40 NK-33 engines in the mid-1990s and, under contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation, the company has modified the engines specifically for Orbital's Taurus II medium-class launch vehicle. Throughout the years, more than 200 NK-33 engines were built and 575 engine tests conducted, totaling more than 100,000 seconds of test time. Aerojet has been developing design modifications to the NK-33 since that time to ensure that the AJ26 is suitable for commercial launchers.

"Aerojet is looking forward to more successes like this throughout the Taurus II program," said Executive Director, Pete Cova. "This is a great opportunity to take the NK-33 engines and convert them into another application for medium-class launch vehicles."

Orbital, Aerojet and NASA Stennis personnel completed facility upgrades to accommodate today's AJ26 testing. In addition to the AJ26 certification testing, each AJ26 engine to be used in the Taurus II program will come through the Stennis facility for pre-launch acceptance testing prior to being integrated with the rocket at NASA's E-1 test stand.

NASAtelevision | November 10, 2010

NASA's Stennis Space Center conducted a successful 10-second test firing of the liquid fuel Aerojet AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of the Orbital Sciences Corporation's Taurus® II space launch vehicle. This test supports NASA's partnerships to enable commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. The test served as a short-duration readiness firing to verify the AJ26 engine's start and shutdown sequences, as well as test stand operations and controls.
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