Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp company, announced Sept. 11 that it is celebrating the 30-year anniversary of its first Solar Electric Propulsion mission.
In 1983, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s first SEP rocket engines were used on the RCA Americom Satcom-1R satellite. The Satcom-1R SEP engines were an early version of the modern Electrothermal Hydrazine Thrusters that used excess power from the satellite’s solar arrays to increase the performance of the state-of-the-art hydrazine rocket engine by 50 percent.
“Since the Satcom-1R launch, Aerojet Rocketdyne has continued to improve the EHT product line and has flown more than 200 EHTs for a variety of mission functions, including stationkeeping and orbit positioning of communication satellites,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President of Advanced Space & Launch Systems Julie Van Kleeck. “Additionally, over the past 30 years, Aerojet Rocketdyne has worked to develop innovative new SEP technologies and increase SEP performance levels to greater than 10 times the original Satcom-1R EHT performance.”
Since 1983, Aerojet Rocketdyne SEP achievements include:
- * Providing more than 500 SEP thrusters with 100 percent mission success
- * Supporting 215 current satellites with Aerojet Rocketdyne SEP systems
- * Designing and manufacturing the highest power, highest efficiency Hall system – the Aerojet Rocketdyne 5-kiloWatt (kW) zero-erosion(TM) XR-5 Hall System
- * Designing and manufacturing the highest power SEP system ever flown, the Aerojet Rocketdyne 30-kW arcjet system
- * Setting a world record 48,000-hour life test on the 7-kW NEXT ion engine jointly produced by Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA Glenn Research Center
- * Designing and manufacturing the only 12kW Hall system, the zero-erosion(TM) XR-12 System, that was validated through integrated system testing and achieved the highest demonstrated technology readiness level
- * Developing five different SEP technologies that operate with power levels from 100 watts to 50 kW and specific impulse performance levels exceeding 4,000 sec, including: EHTs, arcjets, Pulsed Plasma Thrusters, Hall systems, and Ion systems.
“Aerojet Rocketdyne has a proud heritage as the innovation leader in Solar Electric Propulsion,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne President Warren M. Boley, Jr. “SEP is a readily-available option for cost-effective missions and the Aerojet Rocketdyne team is prepared to continue driving this technology well into the future.”