Aerojet Rocketdyne announced Dec. 16 that it completed development testing of a flight-like Launch Abort Engine for an innovative “pusher” launch abort system on Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft.
Aerojet Rocketdyhne is a GenCorp company.
The launch abort engine is a critical component of future commercial crew transportation to low-Earth orbit. A pusher launch abort system “pushes” or propels a spacecraft toward safety if a launch abort is needed and, if unused for an abort, the propellant can be used for other portions of the mission.
“In the past several weeks, the Aerojet Rocketdyne team conducted a series of eight tests on two Launch Abort Engines meeting or exceeding all test parameters,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne Program Manager, Terry Lorier. “The tests demonstrated engine performance for multiple mission duty cycles and proved operation and durability under extreme operating conditions. The success of this most recent test series clears the way for our team to proceed into qualification and production of the engine in the next phase of the program.”
The tests series was conducted at a test facility near Mojave, Calif., with each engine operating at its maximum thrust of 39,000 pounds. The LAE has the distinction of being derived from proven reliable heritage engine systems and utilizes a simple modular design, which is affordable, easy to fabricate and has demonstrated durability and performance.
“This final round of development testing for the abort engines was a big step in verifying they can perform like we anticipated,” said Boeing Vice President of Commercial Programs, John Mulholland. “We’re looking forward to certification testing.”
Boeing is advancing the design of the CST-100 under a Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. When development is completed, the vehicle will be capable of transporting people to future low-Earth orbit destinations and potentially the International Space Station. Aerojet Rocketdyne is operating under a fixed price contract to Boeing having completed the final development demonstration of the LAE for Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft. This testing preceded Boeing’s Service Module Propulsion System critical design review with NASA in November.