SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 9, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, announced today that its dual AJ26 main engine system successfully boosted Orbital Sciences Corporation's (NYSE:ORB) Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on the first Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission carrying the Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff occurred at 1:07 p.m. EST from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Following in-orbit activation shortly after launch, the Cygnus spacecraft will use 32 Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106M 7 lbf monopropellant hydrazine thrusters to perform required in-orbit maneuvers. Berthing with the ISS is scheduled for approximately 6 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, Jan. 12.
"This third successful launch validates that the entire Antares/Cygnus team, spanning multiple companies and continents, has once again proven its reliability to transport services and products to the ISS," said Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President of Space Launch Systems, Steve Bouley. "This mission highlights the wide range of products we supply to customers, like Orbital, as evidenced here with our large liquid propellant AJ26 engines to the multiple small monopropellant thrusters needed to successfully maneuver and berth Cygnus to the ISS."
"Aerojet Rocketdyne's main engines and thrusters will deliver Cygnus to orbit near the ISS," said Warren Yasuhara, Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president of Space Systems. "The 32 small monopropellant thrusters will enable the cargo vehicle to approach the ISS for capture by the Canadarm and to retreat and destructively deorbit at the end of the mission. We are proud of our contributions to commercial resupply servicing."
The AJ26 is a commercial derivative of the NK-33 engine that was first developed by the Kuznetsov Design Bureau of Samara, Russia, to power the Russian N-1 rocket on a lunar mission in the early 1970s. As an oxidizer-rich, staged-combustion, oxygen kerosene engine, it achieves very high performance in a lightweight, compact package.
"Our Russian partners at JSC Kuznetsov provide critical support in the AJ26 production and the eventual flight of these engines," said Aerojet Rocketdyne Executive Director of Space Launch Systems, Pete Cova. "Today's successful launch validates the strength of our partnership."
The Orbital-1 Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission is the first of eight missions covered under the CRS contract. Aerojet Rocketdyne's small monopropellant hydrazine thrusters aboard the Cygnus enable the spacecraft to move in any direction required for the mission. The thrusters are capable of firing in steady state and pulse mode, and provide the Cygnus spacecraft with agility and precision control – including during space station berthing. These are the only hydrazine thrusters in use for space station resupply.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense, strategic, tactical missile, 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