Aerojet’s Delta II second stage engine, the AJ10-118K, successfully passed a requalification test of its ablative chamber at Aerojet’s J4 altitude simulation test facility in Sacramento.
Aerojet is a GenCorp company.
The intent of the requalification program was to replace the asbestos insulator material with a readily-available and environmentally-friendly alternative. The three-burn hot fire test simulated a “test-like-you-fly” duty cycle configuration, qualifying the new engine configuration for flight. The altitude test was preceded by a successful sea-level test in November 2012.
“The Delta II is one of the most robust and reliable rocket engines ever flown,” said Aerojet Vice President of Space and Launch Systems Julie Van Kleeck. “This test represents another successful milestone in a program with a rich history of successful milestones and 100 percent mission success.
Additionally, it verifies that the past design rigor put into this heritage technology meets and exceeds the scrutiny of modern day expectations for flight.”
Under contract to United Launch Alliance, Aerojet’s AJ10 has provided second-stage propulsion on 151 Delta II flights to date with a 100 percent success rate. The engine has helped deliver payloads for NASA’s space exploration efforts such as the Phoenix Mars Lander, Mars Polar Lander, Deep Impact, Kepler, NEAR Shoemaker and the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, as well as the U.S. Air Force Global Positioning System Block IIR fleet.
The AJ10 second stage engine produces approximately 10,000 pounds of thrust for orbital insertion. There are currently four flights in the near-term manifest for Delta II, two in 2014 and two in 2016.