Press Release

U.S. Air Force Communications Satellite Relies on Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Throughout Its Service Life

By SpaceRef Editor
August 8, 2019
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From the five AJ-60A solid rocket motors that provided a combined 1.7 million lbs. of added liftoff thrust for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, to the XR-5 Hall Thrusters used to steer the spacecraft in orbit, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided a variety of propulsion systems to support the successful delivery of the fifth Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) satellite to orbit for the U.S. Air Force.


“Helping to launch critical assets into orbit that provide our nation and its allies with secure, global communications is an important mission that the Aerojet Rocketdyne team takes very seriously,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “Our propulsion systems support this mission from the launch pad to orbit to final end-of-life decommissioning of the satellite.”


According to Lockheed Martin, “The Advanced Extremely High Frequency system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.”


In addition to the five AJ-60A solid rocket motors that helped lift the Atlas V off the launch pad, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1 rocket engine that provided 22,900 lbs. of thrust to propel the rocket’s Centaur upper stage. The company also built the MR-106 reaction control system thrusters that provided upper stage pitch, yaw and roll control. Composite overwrapped pressure vessels that store high-pressure fluids used to support operation of the Atlas V and Centaur were manufactured by ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne.


Onboard the AEHF-5 spacecraft, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided electric XR-5 Hall Thruster strings and monopropellant rocket engines that steer the spacecraft through its mission, including safely deorbiting the satellite at the end of its service life. The XR-5 Hall Thrusters on AEHF satellites enable a propellant mass savings in excess of 2,000 lbs. when compared to performing the mission with all chemical propulsion.


“The propellant mass savings enabled by our XR-5 Hall Thrusters provides end users with more flexibility when planning spacecraft missions,” added Drake. “Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world leader in electric propulsion technology; we have provided more than 550 electric propulsion thrusters on over 200 spacecraft.”


About Aerojet Rocketdyne: Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit www.Rocket.comand Follow Aerojet Rocketdyne and CEO Eileen Drake on Twitter at @AerojetRdyne and @DrakeEileen.

SpaceRef staff editor.