Aerojet Rocketdyne recently received a $67 million contract from Lockheed Martin to provide propulsion systems for the Orion spacecraft planned to launch on Artemis missions VI-VIII. The Orion spacecraft recently completed a successful test flight during NASA’s Artemis I mission, proving it can safely carry humans to deep space on Artemis II. This new work extends the 2019 Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC).
“Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion on NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket contributed to the success of the historic Artemis I mission, from liftoff to splashdown,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen P. Drake. “We’re proud to be part of a team that has demonstrated the ability to safely and efficiently carry astronauts on future Artemis missions, effectively ushering in an exciting new generation of human spaceflight.”
This contract option includes the delivery of three additional sets of Orion’s service module auxiliary engines and three other jettison motors. The eight auxiliary engines each produce 105 pounds of thrust to help maintain Orion’s in-space trajectory and position and supplement the Orion Main Engine. The jettison motor, located on Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS), generates 40,000 pounds of thrust to separate the LAS from the crew module during both nominal operations and abort scenarios, allowing the spacecraft to continue on its journey. The jettison motor is the only motor on the LAS that fires during every mission.
Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded a separate contract in 2021 to provide new Orion Main Engines for future Artemis missions, and Lockheed Martin plans to use refurbished crew modules, which are propelled by reaction control thrusters, also built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, for later Artemis missions.
“Orion is NASA’s deep space exploration vehicle,” continued Drake. “Aerojet Rocketdyne is delivering the propulsion systems that will take the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon, create a sustainable presence on the lunar surface, and develop technologies that will one day enable us to send astronauts to Mars.”
The contract for three shipments of Orion propulsion elements will be managed and performed out of the company’s facility in Redmond, Washington. Work will also be conducted at Aerojet Rocketdyne facilities in Huntsville, Alabama, and Orange County, Virginia.