Space

April 26, 2012

Aerojet completes testing of next-generation exploration thruster

Aerojet, a GenCorp company, announced April 26 that it successfully completed development testing of its MR-104H 100 lbf-class monopropellant hydrazine thruster.

Working with Boeing Exploration Launch Systems and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Aerojet successfully completed environmental and hot-fire performance testing of the MR-104H in Redmond, Wash. The MR-104 product line matured under NASA’s Constellation program and is applicable for future space vehicles.

Aerojet has helped conduct a series of tests over the past three years that has advanced the thruster’s demonstrated capabilities for modern missions, including verifying that the engine is capable of generating up to 200 lbf thrust.

“We have worked with our partners to mature the thruster from its flight-proven spacecraft application toward a human-rated application,” said Dr. Scott Miller, executive director, Aerojet Space and Launch Systems. “We are looking forward to this technology supporting a new generation of U.S. space exploration.”

Adapting the heritage thrusters for NASA included incorporating a modern valve on the engine, changing the thruster nozzle configuration to improve packaging, and developing insulation which allows burying the engine inside of a vehicle – a design modification that allows the MR-104H to be readily incorporated into other vehicle concepts for human spaceflight.

The MR-104H has increased capabilities from the heritage thruster, including an upgraded dual-seat valve, higher vibration capability and improved configuration for integration. The heritage MR-104 thruster was originally flown on the Voyager spacecraft and has helped enable mission success on 10 spacecraft including NASA’s Magellan mission to Venus.

 




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