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ROCKET SCIENCE
Aerojet's AJ26 Flight Engine Successfully Hot-Fire Tested for Orbital's Antares Rocket
by Staff Writers
Sacramento, CA (SPX) May 07, 2012


File image of the Antares rocket.

Aerojet, reports that its AJ26 engine successfully completed a hot-fire test yesterday at NASA's Stennis Space Center.

Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital), Aerojet and NASA monitored the full-duration test in support of the Antares rocket program. This is the eighth AJ26 engine to be tested at Stennis.

"This test demonstrates our 70-year legacy of propulsion performance," said Executive Director of Space and Launch Systems, Pete Cova. "This is what we come to work for every day."

Following review of the test data, the AJ26 will be shipped to Wallops Flight Facility for integration with Orbital's Antares rocket.

Aerojet's AJ26 engine is an oxidizer-rich, staged-combustion LO2/Kerosene engine that achieves very high performance in a lightweight compact package. Based on the NK-33 engine originally designed and produced in Russia for the Russian N1 lunar launch vehicle, the liquid-fuel AJ26 will provide boost for the first stage of the Antares rocket.

Aerojet originally purchased approximately 40 NK-33 engines in the mid-1990s and, under contract with Orbital, the company has modified the engines specifically for its Antares rocket.

Throughout the years, more than 200 NK-33 engines were built and 575 engine tests conducted, totaling more than 100,000 seconds of test time. Aerojet has been developing design modifications to the NK-33 since that time to ensure that the AJ26 is suitable for commercial launchers.

In addition to the AJ26 certification testing, each AJ26 engine to be used on Antares rocket will come through the Stennis facility for pre-launch acceptance testing prior to being integrated with the rocket.

Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, defense and armaments 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.

The Antares rocket vehicle is being developed to boost payloads into a variety of low-Earth and geosynchronous transfer orbits and to Earth escape trajectories. Antares incorporates proven technologies from Orbital's Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur rockets, and is supported by a "best-in-class" network of suppliers from the U.S. and around the world.

The Antares rocket will also be available to civil government and U.S. military customers for dedicated launch services for medium-class scientific and national security satellites.

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