Aerojet, a GenCorp company, announced May 8 that the final Crew Module Reaction Control System pod assembly for NASA’s Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Flight Test-1 has arrived at the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Aerojet’s CM RCS pods will provide the full complement of primary and redundant control required for critical maneuvers upon a high-speed re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This specific hardware will be integrated into the Orion spacecraft to support NASA’s EFT-1 mission, currently slated for 2014.
“We take our 100 percent mission success record seriously,” said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet’s vice president of Space and Launch Systems. “We put our heart into our products and the integration work at KSC will close more than three years of design and development activities in support of EFT-1.”
The two assemblies delivered now join six others already at KSC, including two pitch-up pods with a single rocket engine; two pitch-down pods, each with a single rocket engine; two right and left roll pods, each with two rocket engines; and two right and left yaw pods, each with a single rocket engine.
Beginning in June, the pods will undergo proof pressure and leak testing, valve leak testing and rocket engine functional testing at NASA. Aerojet will support processing activities that involve the rocket engine pods with procedure reviews and onsite engineering and assembly support during installation and testing on the crew module.
The CM RCS pod assemblies were designed by a multi-disciplinary team that utilized expertise across several Aerojet sites nationwide. The propulsion system utilizes Aerojet MR-104G 160 lbf monopropellant engines that are configured into four major pod design variants. The pod development work culminated with the final fabrication and assembly of the complete EFT-1 shipset at Aerojet’s facility in Redmond, Wash. Aerojet performed the CM RCS work under contract with NASA’s Orion prime contractor, Lockheed Martin.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, currently in development, is an advanced spacecraft design utilizing state-of-the-art technology that will allow humans to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on future missions to destinations such as asteroids, Lagrange Points, the moon and, someday, Mars. The LAS design, using an Aerojet jettison motor, is a key element to NASA’s continuing efforts to improve astronaut safety as the agency develops this next generation of spacecraft.