Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Conducts Jettison Motor Nozzle Material Replacement Test for NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

Photo Credit: Alabama Department Of Commerce
This image is not of the LAS test fire, this is from another test. To date, no images have been released from the LAS test fire highlighted in this release. Photo Credit: Alabama Department Of Commerce

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp company, announced today that it successfully conducted a key Orion Jettison Motor (JM) test that demonstrated potential low-cost replacement graphite material for the JM throat inserts. The JM is a critical component of the Launch Abort System (LAS) for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle.

“The funding for this test was a direct result of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s affordability initiatives,” said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president of Advanced Space and Launch Programs. “The test provides data to support implementation of the replacement graphite material in future production motor deliveries and was done on a very aggressive budget and schedule. Our Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and NASA team continues to develop new techniques and processes aimed at further reducing cost, notably for the hardware, the development, and verification processes. Working all aspects of cost is critical to the sustainability of our future space and launch programs, and we are pleased at the tangible results our team is achieving.”

The JM test was conducted under contract to Lockheed Martin and represents a collaborative effort between graphite material supplier GrafTech and design teams at Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, and NASA. The test successfully met all test plan objectives, providing data to enable performance assessment of the new graphite material.

Orion’s LAS is designed to safely propel the crew module away from the launch vehicle in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during the initial ascent phase. Aerojet Rocketdyne designed and manufactured the JM, which is required on every mission to jettison the LAS away from the crew module for both nominal and abort scenarios.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building Orion, NASA’s first spacecraft designed for long-duration, human-rated, deep space exploration. The team includes major subcontractors Aerojet Rocketdyne, United Technologies Aerospace Systems, and Honeywell, as well as an expansive network of minor subcontractors and small businesses in 45 states across the country.

In 2014, Orion’s first test flight, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), will launch an uncrewed Orion atop a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. Orion will travel approximately 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface, and then return to Earth in a high speed re-entry. This test will evaluate several of the most significant aspects of a deep space mission and re-entry, ultimately reducing overall risks and costs for Orion’s first human-rated flight.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense, strategic, tactical missile, and armaments areas in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, energy, and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and


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