Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. has completed all of its propulsion systems for the first crewed flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft and for the Artemis II mission to the moon.
Four RS-25 engines will provide 2 million pounds of thrust to power the core stage of the Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket in the world. The company completed upgrades to the RS-25 engines for Artemis II in November 2019 and following testing at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, all four engines are ready to be integrated with the Artemis II core stage.
The RS-25 is a modified version of the Space Shuttle main engine that Aerojet Rocketdyne built at its Canoga Park plant in the San Fernando Valley, which has since been shut down.
The El Segundo aerospace company also made the RL10 engines for use on the second stage of the Space Launch System in West Palm Beach, Fla.; as well as the jettison motor for the Orion spacecraft, which generates 40,000 pounds of thrust for the launch abort system; the Orion main engine on the service module that will maneuver the spacecraft; and eight auxiliary engines on the service module and 12 reaction control thrusters on the crew module.
Chief Executive Eileen Drake said that with the U.S. sending humans beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time in almost 50 years, it is exciting times for both the nation and NASA.
“The Artemis II mission will be the first time the Space Launch System and Orion will send astronauts into orbit around the Moon, and it is a key precursor to landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon,” Drake said in a statement. “Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems will play a critical role in making this endeavor a reality.”
In May, the company won a $1.8 billion contract from NASA to produce an additional 18 RS-25 rocket engines for future deep space missions. That work will occur at the company's Chatsworth campus.