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Air Force Continues Northrop Grumman Contract For Upper Stage Engine Program

A Rolls Royce TR107 concept engine - part of the Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) program.
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Jun 20, 2007
A contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will allow Northrop Grumman to continue technology development for the Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) program. The program's goal is to design and test a 40,000-pound thrust-class turbopump for liquid hydrogen propellants to reduce risk in future upper stage engine procurements.

Under this most recent USET contract, the company will fabricate the critical turbopump assembly, integrate it at AFRL's test facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and perform validation testing by mid-2009.

Software tools developed by the team under the ongoing USET contract were used to design the turbopump and will be integral to testing operations as well. The new contract is valued at $10.9 million, bringing the total value of the program to $30.8 million to the company.

"Under the USET contract, we're developing advanced rocket engine design tools that are broadly applicable to a wide variety of rocket engine types and oxidizer and fuel combinations," said Tom Romesser, vice president for technology development for Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector.

The turbopump is being designed to meet challenging engine-level design goals as specified by the government's Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology Program. Data from testing the turbopump at AFRL will validate the analysis as well as the modeling and simulation accuracies of tool improvements that have been made to greatly improve speed, robustness and design optimization capabilities.

The Northrop Grumman team has already put to use the USET engine and thrust chamber assembly design tools on several efforts outside of USET, with demonstrated substantial reduction in the cycle time for engine design, along with optimized results. The validated design tools from this program are reducing risk for future Air Force and industry rocket engine development programs. Software tools developed by the team under the ongoing USET contract were used to design the turbopump and will be integral to testing operations as well.

Northrop Grumman is using an integrated product team approach on its USET contracts. Team members are Barber-Nichols Inc., Arvada, Colo.; Rolls-Royce Liberty Works, Indianapolis, Ind.; Concepts NREC, White River Junction, Vt.; Texas A and M University, College Station, Texas; Sierra Engineering Inc., Carson City, Nev.; and D and E Propulsion and Power Inc., Mims, Fla.

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China To Increase Payload Capacity Of Carrier Rockets
Beijing (Xinhua) Jun 19, 2007
China plans to develop a new generation of carrier rockets with an increased payload capacity in order to advance its lunar exploration program, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The payload capacity of China's Long March series of carrier rockets will be increased from its current weight of 9.5 tons to 25 tons, an official with the corporation said.

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