Aerojet has completed a second set of hot-fire test sequences of its R-1E 25-pound thrust, bipropellant engine. This second test included more than 17,250 seconds of total burn time, demonstrating engine flexibility to operate under a broad variety of conditions expected for NASA’s Orion service module. Initial test results indicate the engine performed successfully in simulated space-flight mission scenarios.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor to NASA for developing the Orion crew exploration vehicle as the nation’s next generation spacecraft for future exploration throughout our solar system.
Aerojet is providing all of the engines for the Orion spacecraft, which is comprised of a crew module for crew and cargo transport and a service module for propulsion, electrical power and fluids storage.
Risk reduction testing of critical subsystems has been ongoing throughout Orion’s development phase to maximize mission success and crew safety.
This early demonstration of the engine’s performance at expected Orion operating conditions was conducted to retire risk to the Orion vehicle including sustained operation at severe Orion conditions.
“These tests of flight-like hardware show our readiness to support the early flight objectives for a possible orbital demonstration flight as early as 2013,” said Scott Jennings, Aerojet’s program manager.
The R-1E currently provides in-space propulsion for the space shuttle and has a long history of successfully enabling space shuttle maneuvers.
The R-1E also provides precise in-space propulsion for the Japanese H-II transfer vehicle (HTV), which rendezvoused and docked with the International Space Station last year.
Orion’s engine complement includes 16 25-pound thrust engines, eight 100-pound thrust bipropellant engines and a single 7,500-pound force Orion Main Engine. Additionally, Aerojet will supply 12 160-pound force monopropellant engines for the Orion Crew Module.
Aerojet is part of the nationwide Orion industry team led by Lockheed Martin, which also includes five major subcontractors and an expansive network of minor subcontractors and small businesses working at 88 facilities in 28 states across the country.