Press Release

Aerojet-Assisted New Rocket Engine Combustion Cycle Technology Testing Reaches 100% Power Level

By SpaceRef Editor
July 19, 2006
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Aerojet, a GenCorp Inc. company, announced today that America’s only staged combustion liquid rocket booster engine currently in development achieved an important milestone July 12 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) near Bay St. Louis, Miss.

The demonstrator reached “steady-state” operation, achieving 100 percent power, or “mainstage” performance, for the first time. The engine, dubbed the Integrated Powerhead Demonstrator (IPD), combines the very latest in rocket engine propulsion technologies.

The IPD ground engine is being designed, developed and tested through the combined efforts of Aerojet and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, under the program direction of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and technical direction of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Its technologies are directed at achieving the goals of the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology (IHPRPT) program and Exploration Technology Development program of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

Capable of generating about 250,000 pounds of thrust, the engine technology uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in a first U.S. demonstration of the full-flow, staged-combustion cycle. It has been designed as a reusable engine system, capable of up to 200 flights, and features high-performance long-life technologies and materials. Aerojet’s fuel and oxidizer preburners met all their objectives for mainstage operation. Aerojet also developed the first U.S.-built channel wall nozzle to be tested in an engine and it continues to perform flawlessly.

“I’m very excited about this program,” said Stephen Hanna, AFRL IPD Program Manager. “Our team, composed of engineers and managers from AFRL, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the NASA Stennis Space Center, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Aerojet, is the best that industry and Government have to offer. This is the first new liquid engine cycle in the last 35 years dating back to the development days of the Space Shuttle’s Main Engine.”

“The IPD Program is an excellent example of a focused effort by government and industry teams to reach shared goals that will advance the state of liquid rocket propulsion technology,” said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet Vice President, Space Programs. “We’re thrilled with the success we’ve had at bringing channel wall nozzle technology to this engine system demonstration. This program provides a cost-effective manner in which high payoff technologies can be demonstrated at the component and engine system levels.”

Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, and armaments markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems with a real estate business segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale, and leasing of the Company’s excess real estate assets. Additional information about Aerojet and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the Companies’ web sites at and .

SpaceRef staff editor.