Monday, February 18, 2013

NASA selects Aerojet to develop Space Launch System Advanced Booster

Aerojet, a manufacturer of rocket and missile propulsion based in California, has been awarded by NASA to develop engineering demonstrations and risk reduction concepts that will be used for future advanced boosters for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS).

As one of the companies contracted for a NASA Research Announcement (NRA), Aerojet is tasked to enhance affordability, reliability and performance of an advanced booster for a future version of the SLS heavy-lift spacecraft.

The Space Launch System’s vehicle will take NASA’s Orion rocket and other payloads farther than ever before. The 70-metric-ton version of SLS will use two five-segment solid rocket boosters identical to the boosters that aided in powering the space shuttle to orbit. The expected 130-metric-ton version needs an advanced booster with more thrust to evolve the current SLS.

Aerojet will work on improving technical maturation of a liquid oxygen and kerosene oxidizer-rich staged-combustion engine, as well as reducing any risk that may arise. To achieve this, the company will need to fabricate a representative full-scale 550,000-pound thrust class main injector and thrust chamber. Aerojet’s will also require preparation to conduct a series of tests measuring performance and demonstrating combustion stability.

Aside from Aerojet, other companies that were also contracted by NASA to develop the SLS advanced booster include ATK Launch Systems Inc., Dynetics Inc., and Northrop Grumman Corporation Aerospace Systems. These new initiatives will perform and analyze advanced booster concepts and hardware demonstrations during an approximate 30-month period.

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