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Global MilSatCom 2018

Orion Jettison Motor ready for crew escape system test

(9 July 2018 - Aerojet Rocketdyne) Aerojet Rocketdyne recently passed a key milestone in preparation for the Ascent Abort Test (AA-2) next year with the successful casting of the Jettison Motor for the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS).

AA-2 is a full-stress test of NASA’s Orion LAS, which includes the Jettison Motor built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. The Orion Jettison Motor is used to separate the LAS from Orion as it makes its way to space and is the only motor on the escape system to activate in all mission scenarios.

In the unlikely event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent, the LAS would activate within milliseconds to whisk Orion and its astronaut crew to safety. Once Orion reaches a safe distance from the rocket, the Orion Jettison Motor would ignite to separate the LAS structure from the spacecraft, which could then deploy its parachutes for a safe landing.

During the AA-2 test, a solid rocket booster will launch a fully functional LAS and an Orion test vehicle to an altitude of 31,000 feet at Mach 1.3 (over 1,000 mph) to test out the functionality of the LAS system prior to flying humans. The Jettison Motor will fire last in the test sequence.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne technicians inspect the Jettison Motor for the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft's Launch Abort System (LAS) at its facility in Sacramento, Calif. (courtesy: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

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The Jettison Motor built by Aerojet Rocketdyne for the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft's Launch Abort System (LAS) that will be tested during the Ascent Abort Test (AA-2) next year. (courtesy: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

“Every time our engineers work on products supporting the Orion spacecraft or the Space Launch System rocket, they have astronaut safety front and center of mind,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “The AA-2 test is a critical step to testing the Launch Abort System and our Jettison Motor and ensuring our astronauts always return home safely to their families.”

The Orion Jettison Motor, which generates 40,000 pounds of thrust, uses a propellant that is poured into a motor casing, where it cures over a period of several days to form a solid, stable cast that burns in a precisely controlled fashion.

The AA-2 Jettison Motor casting took place at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s motor production facility in Sacramento, California. The completed motor will now be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for integration with the LAS by Lockheed Martin.

"The casting of the Orion Jettison Motor marks a critical step as we prepare for the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion to test the systems that will be used to take astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon and to other exciting destinations," added Drake.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets.