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Aerojet Wins NASA Contract For Electric Propulsion Demonstrator

File illustration of an electric ion engine.
Sacramento CA (SPX) Jun 06, 2005
Aerojet, a GenCorp Inc. company, has received a two-phase contract from NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate to design, build, test and deliver a sub-scale electric propulsion direct drive system.

The direct drive system will validate the technology for future full-scale use on Moon and Mars cargo transport vehicles. The two-phase, $12.3 million contract (including all options) was awarded by NASA's Glenn Research Center.

Aerojet's direct drive system will deliver high-voltage power directly from space vehicle solar panels, to electric propulsion Hall thrusters. This will eliminate costly and heavy primary power converters and reduce solar panel size.

Aerojet projects a mass savings on full-scale Moon or Mars solar electric propulsion cargo vehicles in excess of 1,000 kg (or the equivalent of 2,205 lbs.), resulting in reduced propellant needs for launching the vehicles from Earth.

"This direct drive system, which will provide NASA with new propulsion technology, again demonstrates Aerojet's role in supporting the agency's needs for creating affordable, sustainable access to the moon and Mars," said Aerojet President Mike Martin.

The two-phase program will culminate with a ground system demonstration test at Glenn that will include illuminating solar panels in a vacuum test chamber used to drive a Hall thruster firing. At the conclusion of the program, the hardware will be delivered to NASA for integration into a flight experiment mission to validate the technology in space.

Aerojet's teammates on the contract include Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Vacco, NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

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SpaceX And NASA Sign Cooperative Agreement On Human Spaceflight Development
Houston TX (SPX) Jun 03, 2005
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) announced Thursday the signing of a Space Act Agreement with NASA regarding development of human spaceflight hardware. SpaceX and Johnson Space Center (JSC) will identify joint opportunities in pursuit of cost effective human spaceflight systems.

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