Press Release

Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Supported ULA Launch of NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission into Orbit

By SpaceRef Editor
March 13, 2015
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Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, played a major role in successfully placing NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission into orbit. The unprecedented mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion included an RL10A-4-2 upper-stage engine, six helium pressurization tanks and a dozen Centaur upper-stage thrusters used for roll, pitch, yaw and settling burns. Each of the four identical MMS spacecraft that were deployed from the vehicle uses eight Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106N 4.0 lbf radial rocket engine assemblies to position the spacecraft (both absolutely and relative to one another) and to keep each spacecraft spinning at about three revolutions per minute.

“MMS will investigate connections and disconnections of magnetic fields around the Earth – natural processes that can impact the Earth’s magnetosphere and ultimately affect satellites and human space travel,” said Warren Yasuhara, vice president of Space Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “We are pleased to know that our thrusters will be playing a critical role to keep these satellites in orbit.”

After the Atlas V lifted off the pad and the Centaur upper stage separated from the launch vehicle, a single RL10A-4-2 engine ignited to place the payload into orbit, helped by the Centaur thrusters and other Aerojet Rocketdyne-provided hardware for both the booster and upper stage. The venerable RL10A-4-2 engine delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust to power the upper stage, using cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants during its operation. ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, provides the pressure vessels on the first and second stages on the launch vehicle.

According to NASA, the MMS mission will study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. The mission will observe reconnection directly within Earth’s protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that will work together to provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process. By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS also will help scientists understand reconnection in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars; in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars; and at the boundary between our solar system’s heliosphere and interstellar space.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and

SpaceRef staff editor.