Partner News

Aerojet Milestones Pave Way for Orion Spacecraft’s First Exploration Flight Test

Written by: developer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Feb. 25, 2013) – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it successfully completed fabrication of the jettison motor and recently shipped the first two Crew Module Reaction Control System (CM RCS) pod assemblies for NASA’s Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1).

Aerojet’s jettison motor will be the only active motor on the Launch Abort System (LAS) during the uncrewed EFT-1 flight, scheduled for 2014, and is required to jettison the LAS away from the Orion crew capsule during the flight test’s early ascent phase. EFT-1 will take Orion beyond low Earth orbit, to an altitude of about 3,600 miles over the Earth’s surface, more than 15 times farther away than the International Space Station.

“We are pleased to complete the EFT-1 flight jettison motor ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Aerojet Vice President, Space & Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck. “Aerojet’s jettison motor represents the next generation in launch abort system technology. Our team has taken the Apollo-era launch abort motor design and significantly advanced it through the application of modern propellants, materials and innovative design features.”

The EFT-1 jettison motor builds upon the successful motor static test efforts demonstrated on DM-1 and DM-2 at Aerojet’s Sacramento, Calif. facility, as well as the successful Pad Abort 1 flight test demonstrated at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in May 2010.

Along with progress on the LAS, Aerojet recently shipped EFT-1 crew module propulsion components to the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Aerojet’s CM RCS pods 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 marks shipment of the first two pods in a series that will culminate in a total of eight pods comprised of four single engine and four dual engine pods,” said Van Kleeck. “The EFT-1 CM RCS builds upon the successful MR-104G Engine Design Verification Testing that was conducted in 2011.”

The CM RCS utilizes Aerojet MR-104G 160-lbf thrust monopropellant engines. The MR-104 engine family originally provided in-space propulsion for the Voyager 1 and 2 and Magellan missions. Subsequent MR-104 variants provided propulsion for NOAA’s Landsat program, as well as other U.S. government programs.

Aerojet performed the jettison motor and CM RCS work under contract with NASA’s Orion prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT).

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, currently in development, is an advanced capsule 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.

Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense, strategic, tactical missile and armaments areas in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems with a real estate segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale, and leasing of the company’s excess real estate assets. Additional information about Aerojet and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and

# # #

Glenn Mahone, Aerojet, 202.302.9941
[email protected] 
Kristin Conner, Aerojet, 916.355.2143
[email protected]