SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it has successfully completed a major milestone in the development of a ground demonstrator for the Next Generation Engine (NGE) program. Aerojet, along with its partner Florida Turbine Technologies, Inc. (FTT), recently completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the turbopump assembly before an Independent Review Team comprised of third party turbomachinery experts.
"We continue to make steady progress on a modern, all-U.S. LOX/hydrogen upper stage engine which will significantly reduce U.S. launch vehicle propulsion costs and improve performance," said Aerojet's Vice President of Space and Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck. "We are looking forward to a future open NGE competition that focuses on modern and affordable design and manufacturing approaches that are critical to long-term launch vehicle propulsion sustainability. It has been decades since there has been an open engine competition in this country which has not been good for U.S. competitiveness or its propulsion industrial base. Today, unfortunately, we fly a mix of costly old technology and foreign engines, neither of which will allow the U.S. to maintain Space Access Leadership. A competitively procured NGE will have a very significant positive effect on the U.S. propulsion industrial bases' competitiveness and Aerojet will provide a compelling solution to this challenge."
Aerojet has been preparing for a new LOX/hydrogen competition for many years. The company has executed or shared in more than 40 different programs that have generated dozens of discrete design and manufacturing technologies that are now being incorporated into the company's low-risk NGE design.
More recently, the Aerojet/FTT team successfully built and tested the Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) hydrogen pump at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The USET program is an AFRL Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology (IHPRPT) program that started in 2003 and is focused on the next generation of physics-based modeling and simulation design tools to reduce design time, lower cost and increase fidelity for the next U.S. upper stage engine. Other recent foundational LOX/hydrogen programs at Aerojet include the Liquid Engine Test Bed and the Integrated Powerhead Demonstrator, which were produced for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and for the AFRL respectively. Critical tooling as well as sea-level and altitude test sites for NGE are already in place at Aerojet or at its partner companies.