Military Embedded Systems

Reusable rocket engine passes qual test for next-era spaceflight


April 21, 2017

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Reusable rocket engine passes qual test for next-era spaceflight
The MR-104J Hydrazine Monopropellant Engine--Photo credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Aerojet Rocketdyne has announced the completion of hot-fire qualification tests of an engine that demonstrates the ability to meet reusability requirements for Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner crew module propulsion system.

In use for NASA service missions to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing's Starliner spacecraft will carry up to four astronauts and time-sensitive scientific research projects. The Starliner crew module propulsion system will use 12 of the Aerojet Rocketdyne-designed MR-104J engines for reaction control to orient the vehicle during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere; during the mission, vehicle attitude control is provided by the Service Module Engines, also provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The MR-104J, designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, was developed and tested under the company's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract to Boeing. Similar to other reaction control system engines, the MR-104J includes new features to increase redundancy and additional strength to withstand multiple shocks at operating temperatures. The engine upgrades also provide reusability credibility for Boeing as it certifies its Starliner crew modules for multiple missions.

Under the terms of the CCtCap subcontract Aerojet Rocketdyne will provide propulsion system hardware to Boeing that includes Crew Module Reaction Control engines, Launch Abort Engines, Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control thrusters, and Service Module Reaction Control System thrusters. Boeing will integrate Aerojet's propulsion hardware into the Starliner spacecraft at the Boeing Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.


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