Aerojet recently completed three successful series of Strutjet rocket engine tests in its newly refurbished air breathing engine test facility in Sacramento, Calif. ``We achieved our goal to optimize the Strutjet engine's air-augmented rocket mode for low speed portions of the mission where high thrust levels are critical,'' said Dick Johnson, Aerojet program manager. Strutjet, able to operate as both a rocket and a scramjet, is a new type of engine in the early stages of development for launch vehicles, missiles, and other advanced aircraft.
The first series of tests, held in early January, included six high performance rockets fabricated in two integral platelet assemblies. They were performed using hydrogen/oxygen propellants at 1,500 psi chamber pressure and a mixture ratio of 7, with secondary fuel injected to burn with bypass air in the engine duct.
The second series, completed in late January, incorporated Aerojet's first flight-type cooled platelet panel built as part of NASA's Advanced Space Transportation Program Propulsion Technology and Integration Project. The flight-type panel successfully survived the ducted rocket thermal environments.
The final series of sea level static hotfire tests were completed successfully on February 10 demonstrating a further increase in thrust augmentation with subtle design refinements. These tests also demonstrated hydrogen cooling of the flight-type panel.
The tests, previously conducted at the GASL facility in Long Island, N.Y., were part of the multimillion dollar extension Aerojet received last year from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center for continued development of the Strutjet Rocket-Based Combined Cycle (RBCC) engine through 2001. The RBCC engine, the generic version of Strutjet, combines rocket/scramjet technology results in an engine that can propel a vehicle from the ground to space with better fuel efficiency and lower cost than traditional rocket engines.
``Moving the tests to Aerojet has increased data quality, reduced test costs, increased test rate, and provided an environment for conveniently testing cooled panels,'' said Johnson.
Aerojet, a GenCorp company, is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the space electronics, missile and space propulsion, and smart munitions and armaments markets. Aerojet's Web site address is http://www.aerojet.com .