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Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Inserts NASA’s LADEE in Lunar Orbit

Written by: developer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Oct. 7, 2013) – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that its 100-lbf High Performance Apogee Thruster (HiPAT™) bipropellant engine, integrated into a propulsion system built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL), enabled NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) to achieve lunar orbit on Oct. 6.

The HiPAT™ performed two phasing burns, each of which increased the apogee in preparation for two Lunar Orbit Insertion burns.

“From the crewed Apollo vehicle to the orbiters of Lunar Prospector and LADEE, Aerojet Rocketdyne provides propulsion and power for lunar exploration,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President of Space Systems, Warren Yasuhara. “LADEE is designed to characterize the tenuous lunar atmosphere and dust environment–an important study in preparation for returning astronauts to the moon.”

Demonstrating NASA’s success in leveraging the capability of commercially proven technology for U.S. Government missions, Aerojet Rocketdyne delivered the HiPAT™ to SSL for integration into the LADEE propulsion system in March 2011. The bi-propellant propulsion system is a variant of the mission critical system, based on the HiPAT™ engine, which SSL has successfully used over many years for its geostationary commercial satellites.

Advantages of the HiPAT™ engine include its ability to operate over a broad range of pressures and propellant mixtures that make it uniquely suitable for missions like LADEE which require multiple burns over a relatively long period of time. The HiPAT™ will continue to periodically re-boost LADEE as it gathers detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.

LADEE, the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., was launched on Sept. 6, 2013, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia aboard the Minotaur V rocket. The Minotaur V, provided by the U.S. Air Force, was a repurposed three-stage Peacekeeper Missile to which Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va., added two additional stages and new avionics and guidance software. Aerojet Rocketdyne built the SR119 Peacekeeper second stage solid rocket motor that helped launch LADEE into an Earth-centric trajectory.

Aerojet Rocketdyne 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 diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, energy and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and

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Glenn Mahone, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 202.302.9941
[email protected] 
Erin Dick, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 818.586.4977
[email protected]