Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Aerojet completes initial vibration and Hot Fire engine tests for Orion

PR News Wire -

Sacramento -- Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, successfully completed the first series of vibration and altitude hot fire tests on NASA's Orion crew module's 160 lb. thrust mono-propellant rocket engine. The objective of the test program was to verify engine performance after the thruster was subjected to Orion vibration loads which produced energy levels that were two times higher than those previously qualified.

The post-vibration altitude hot fire test sequences mapped the thruster health over its full operating range and proved the capability to exceed 200 lbs. of thrust during steady-state firing, thereby demonstrating an Orion worst-case contingency operation.

"This recent testing mitigates an identified risk and provides additional data against which the Orion crew module engine's analytical models can be validated," said Doug Cosens, Aerojet's project Orion program director. "This effort also illustrates continued cooperation among Aerojet, Lockheed Martin and NASA on the Orion program."

Under contract with Lockheed Martin, NASA's prime contractor for Orion, Aerojet provides propulsion for the crew module as well as all engines aboard the service module. The current Orion crew module flight configuration includes 12 MR-104G engines operating at 160 lbs. of thrust. The MR-104 engine family originally provided in-space propulsion for the Voyager 1 and 2 and Magellan missions. Subsequent MR-104 variants provided propulsion for Landsat and NOAA as well as other U.S. government programs.

The Orion crew exploration vehicle will be the flagship of NASA's Constellation Program, which is comprised of the spacecraft and systems that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station and conduct sustained human exploration of the moon and Mars.

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