Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion to Enable NASA Perseverance Rover’s Landing on Mars
Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team
REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 17, 2021 – Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion will play a critical role in the Feb. 18 landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will be NASA’s 9th landing on Mars and Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion has played a role on all of these missions. Designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Perseverance rover will give scientists a better understanding of the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life. Perseverance will ultimately make discoveries to pave the way for human exploration of Mars.
“Landing on Mars is hard. The planet has an atmosphere but it is too thin to slow the spacecraft down enough for a safe landing, and that is where Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion comes in,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen P. Drake. “Aerojet Rocketdyne’s innovative and reliable propulsion has been a part of every successful NASA mission to Mars since the Viking program in the 1970s.”
According to NASA, entry, descent and landing is the shortest and most intense phase of the mission. When Perseverance reaches the outermost portion of the Martian atmosphere, it will be traveling nearly 12,500 mph and, within seven minutes, must slow to zero so it can hover and the rover can be lowered to the surface by a sky crane.
Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion is critical to this phase of the mission which is often referred to as the “seven minutes of terror.” Eight MR-107U thrusters will stabilize the spacecraft during its entry into the Martian atmosphere; and eight MR-80B throttling thrusters on the descent stage will continue to slow the spacecraft’s descent and enable the sky crane to hover as it lowers the rover onto the planet’s surface. Both the MR-80B and MR-107U thrusters are manufactured at the company’s facility in Redmond, Washington. Aerojet Rocketdyne subsidiary ARDÉ also provided two pressurized tanks on the descent stage.
Once the Perseverance rover is safely on the surface of Mars, it will begin preparations for its roughly two-year sample collection mission. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) that will power the rover and its instruments throughout surface operations. The MMRTG is provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne in Los Angeles, California.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s role on the Mars 2020 mission began with its launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on July 30, 2020. The Atlas V employed a number of Aerojet Rocketdyne motors, engines and tanks, including four AJ-60A solid rocket motors; an RL10C-1 Centaur upper stage engine; 12 MR-106 reaction control system thrusters on the Centaur upper stage; and eight helium pressurization tanks.
About Aerojet Rocketdyne: Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. Follow Aerojet Rocketdyne and CEO Eileen Drake on Twitter at @AerojetRdyne and @DrakeEileen.
Ashley Riser, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 571-236-4091
Mary Engola, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 571-289-1371
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