NASA selects Aerojet Rocketdyne for Orion spacecraft engine propulsion
Under the terms of the contract, which runs to April 2032, with a maximum value of $600 million, Aerojet Rocketdyne will deliver up to 20 new OME engines for use on Artemis missions, beginning with Artemis VII. They could also support other NASA-sponsored, deep space exploration missions.
The OME is described as a 6,000 pound-thrust bipropellant engine that is mounted on Orion’s European Service module and will be built at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Los Angeles and Redmond facilities.
The engine is used for major manoeuvres in space, such as entering and departing lunar orbit.
The first six Orion missions will use refurbished Orbital Maneuvering System engines (OMS-E) that were provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne for the space shuttle program, says the company.
“Having originally designed and developed the OMS-E for the shuttle program, Aerojet Rocketdyne understands the engine’s materials, manufacturing processes and thrust levels,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen P. Drake. “Now we are able to incorporate modern manufacturing techniques to provide NASA with a reliable, flight-proven and affordable engine to propel the Orion spacecraft and return astronauts to the Moon. We understand this engine inside and out and are excited to develop its next generation in support of future Artemis missions.”
As well as the main engine, Aerojet Rocketdyne also provides – under contract to Lockheed Martin – the auxiliary engines on Orion’s service module, reaction control thrusters on the crew module, OMS-E refurbishment services and the jettison motor on the spacecraft’s launch abort system.
In January, Lockheed Martin announced it would be buying Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings in a transaction valued at $4.4 billion.
The deal was expected to have been completed in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has since requested further information as part of the regulatory review process, amid concerns about competition for rocket boosters.