NASA Taps Aerojet Rocketdyne to Develop Deep Space Electric Propulsion System


Aerojet-Rocketdyne

In April 2015, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced that they have been selected by NASA to design an electric propulsion system to power its future manned spaceflights to cislunar space and beyond to Mars. The company will soon begin negotiations to finalize contract terms. The scope of the contract will include Aerojet Rocketdyne developing a 100kW hall thruster system, including its 250kW multi-channel nested hall thruster (NHT).

Aerojet Rocketdyne will also build a 100kW modular power processing unit (PPU) and associated components of the modular feed system. PPUs are designed to power the hall thruster by converting the electrical power generated by a spacecraft's solar arrays. Under the contract, the company will also have an option to complete system integration testing and a 100-hour test of the 100kW system.

Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s advanced space and launch systems vice-president, is excited to fulfill the contract. She said in a statement, "Our high-power nested hall thruster system will provide the best path in the development of faster transportation to the moon, Mars and beyond. When it comes to cargo and crew transportation, our advanced propulsion system will dramatically decrease the trip times and cost of human exploration."

Advanced in-space programs executive director Roger Myers is also very excited. He said: "Our unique flight experience with 5kW hall thruster systems enables us to efficiently develop these very high-power, scalable solar electric propulsion systems. There are many applications for these systems, including new government and commercial missions that will benefit from high power, fast trip times.”

Headquartered in Sacramento, California, Aerojet Rocketdyne is an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer owned by GenCorp. The company was formed in 2013 when Aerojet merged with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

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