SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, played a major role in successfully placing NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft on its journey to determine how the loss of atmospheric gas may have changed the Martian climate over time. The mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, with an RL10A-4-2 upper-stage engine, helium pressurization tanks, and a dozen Centaur upper-stage thrusters used for roll, pitch, yaw and settling burns.
"Launching a science spacecraft of this type onto its proper path to study Mars helps contribute to our understanding of the workings of our solar system," said Steve Bouley, vice president of Space Launch Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "Everyone involved in this launch should be proud of the role they played to ensure yet another successful mission."
Once in space, a single RL10A-4-2 engine ignited to place MAVEN on course to the red planet. The workhorse RL10A-4-2 engine delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust to power the Atlas V upper-stage, using cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants during its operation. ARDE, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, provides the pressure vessels on the first and second stages on the launch vehicle.
Twelve Aerojet Rocketdyne monopropellant (hydrazine) thrusters in four modules on the Atlas V Centaur upper stage provided roll, pitch and yaw control as well as settling burns for the upper stage.
MAVEN will be the first spacecraft mission dedicated to surveying the upper atmosphere of Mars. It is a robotic exploration mission designed to understand the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate over time. This will help determine when and for how long liquid water could have been stable on the surface, which has implications in answering the question about whether Mars could have ever harbored life. Once separated from the launch vehicle, MAVEN will use eight MR-103G 0.1lbf thrusters and six MR-106L 5 lbf thrusters for in-flight maneuvers and six MR-107S 50 lbf thrusters for Mars Orbit Insertion. MAVEN will arrive at Mars in September of 2014.
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 providing innovative solutions to its customers in the aerospace and defense, energy and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies' websites at www.Rocket.com and www.GenCorp.com.
Source: Aerojet Rocketdyne