Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, successfully completed 250 hot-fire test sequences of its legendary R-4D 100-pound-thrust bipropellant engine. The test included over 20,000 starts under a broad variety of conditions expected for NASA's Orion Service Module. The objective of the test program was to retire risk to the Orion vehicle by an early demonstration of engine performance at expected Orion operating conditions. "Through collaboration with Lockheed Martin and NASA, Aerojet engineers have conducted a valuable R-4D engine test program that will lead to a low-risk propulsion approach for NASA's Orion Service Module," said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet's vice president for Space Programs. "Aerojet's contribution of development hardware to the program enabled the team to complete our milestones earlier than expected."
The R-4D originally provided in-space propulsion for the Apollo Service Module and was used during the Apollo 13 rescue. Since the Apollo era, the engine has become a workhorse for providing reliable in-space propulsion for positioning geosynchronous satellites. In another new role, the R-4D will provide precise in-space propulsion for two International Space Station support vehicles -- the Japanese H-II transfer vehicle (HTV) and the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
Aerojet will be providing propulsion to Lockheed Martin for NASA's Orion Crew Module as well as all engines aboard the Orion Service Module. This engine complement includes sixteen 25-pound thrust engines, eight 100-pound- thrust bipropellant engines and a 7,500-pound-thrust Orion Main Engine. Additionally, Aerojet will supply twelve 160-pound-thrust monopropellant engines for the Orion Crew Module.
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 http://www.aerojet.com/ and http://www.gencorp.com/.