Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Aerojet Rocketdyne Sign Contracts for SLS and CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft

NASA took the next big step on its Journey to Mars on Nov. 4 by placing the first RS-25 flight engine, engine No. 2059, on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center. Credit: NASA

Aerojet Rocketdyne, was awarded a contract by NASA to restart production of the RS-25 engine for the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world and designed for the Journey to Mars. The company has also has signed a deal with Boeing valued at nearly $200 million that supports a new era of spaceflight - one that will carry humans to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil once again.

"SLS is America's next generation heavy lift system," said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Advanced Space & Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "This is the rocket that will enable humans to leave low Earth orbit and travel deeper into the solar system, eventually taking humans to Mars."

The $1.16 billion contract, which runs from November 2015 through Sept. 30, 2024, is to restart the production line for the RS-25 engine. These production lines have been significantly improved and made more efficient since the retirement of the space shuttle program.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is the prime contractor for the RS-25, and four of these engines will fly on the bottom of the core stage of the SLS rocket, together producing more than two million pounds of thrust.

The first flight test of the SLS is slated for 2018, and it will be configured for a 70-metric-ton lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft. As SLS evolves, it will be the most powerful rocket ever built and provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons.

"The RS-25 engines designed under this new contract will be expendable with significant affordability improvements over previous versions," added Jim Paulsen, vice president, Program Execution, Advanced Space & Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "This is due to the incorporation of new technologies, such as the introduction of simplified designs; 3-D printing technology called additive manufacturing; and streamlined manufacturing in a modern, state-of-the-art fabrication facility."

Under its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract to Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne is completing the design, development, qualification, certification and initial production of the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 "Starliner" service module propulsion system.

A CST-100 Starliner partner and team member since 2010, Aerojet Rocketdyne's work continues the development of the service module and launch abort propulsion system from prior commercial crew contracts with Boeing.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne is leveraging adaptations of proven hardware and technologies to deliver an affordable reliable propulsion system that can be counted on to perform throughout the spacecraft's mission and ensure the safety of the astronauts and success of the mission," said Terry Lorier, Aerojet Rocketdyne's CST-100 service module propulsion system program manager. "We are honored to play a critical role in continuing our nation's legacy in human-rated spaceflight, as well as helping to revolutionize how our great country accesses and explores space."

Under the CCtCap contract, Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide seven shipsets of hardware with options for additional shipsets. Each production hardware shipset will include four Launch Abort Engines (LAEs), 24 Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) engines, 28 Reaction Control System (RCS) engines, 164 valves, 12 tanks and more than 500 feet of ducts, lines and tubing. Boeing will assemble hardware kits into the service module section of the CST-100 spacecraft at its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Aerojet Rocketdyne also provides hardware supporting the Qualification Test Vehicle; Service Module hot fire testing, which will take place at White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico; the orbital flight test, which will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida; and Pad Abort testing, which will occur at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The CST-100 is scheduled to deliver astronauts to the ISS for NASA, beginning in 2017.

The Starliner service module propulsion system provides integrated launch abort capability on the pad and during ascent, along with all propulsion needs during a nominal flight - from launch vehicle separation, docking and undocking from the ISS, and through separation of the crew and service modules when the spacecraft begins to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. During re-entry, the crew module propulsion is then provided by monopropellant thrusters from Aerojet Rocketdyne manufactured at its facility in Redmond, Washington.

The Starliner abort propulsion system is designed to quickly "push" a crew capsule toward safety if an abort is necessary. If unused for an abort, the propellant is then used to complete the spacecraft's nominal mission. The Starliner service module propulsion system includes 40,000-pound thrust launch abort engines used only in an abort; 1,500-pound thrust class OMAC engines that provide low-altitude launch abort attitude control; maneuvering and stage-separation functions; high-altitude direct abort capability and large orbital maneuvers; and 28 100-pound thrust class RCS engines that provide high-altitude abort attitude control, on-orbit low delta-v maneuvering function and space station re-boost capability.

Credit: rocket.com

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