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Sat, Oct 25, 2008

Aerojet To Provide Motors For NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes Mission

Spacecraft To Be Powered By Hydrazine Propulsion Systems

Aerojet announced Friday it has been selected by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) to provide propulsion systems for NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission. The work will be conducted at Aerojet's Redmond, WA facility.

The objective of the RBSP mission is to understand the fundamental physics underlying the source, loss and transport processes that govern the radiation belts -- the two regions encircling the Earth, where high energy particles are trapped by the Earth's magnetic field. Observations from two spacecraft will be used to develop empirical and physics-based models for the radiation belts.

The empirical models will be used to design improved radiation-hardened spacecraft, while the physics-based models will be used by forecasters to predict geomagnetic storms and alert both astronauts and spacecraft operators to potential hazards. RBSP is part of NASA's Living With a Star Program. The spacecraft are scheduled to launch in 2011.

For the mission, Aerojet will provide two monopropellant hydrazine propulsion systems, one for each spacecraft. The two spacecraft must make identical measurements in order to observe changes in the radiation belts through both space and time.

Each satellite will carry five science investigations to observe the charged particles that constitute Earth's radiation belts over the full energy range from 1 eV to more than 10 MeV (including composition); the plasma waves which energize them; the electric fields that transport them and the magnetic fields that guide their motion.

These particular propulsion systems include design, analysis, manufacture and test of fully integrated systems including eight thrusters, three propellant tanks, feed system components, thermal management and telemetry.

To date, Aerojet has delivered more than 220 liquid propulsion systems, including several for JHU/APL.

Operational JHU/APL satellites with Aerojet propulsion systems include Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), Mercury MESSENGER, Pluto New Horizons and the twin STEREO spacecraft. The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission - the first spacecraft to successfully land on an asteroid - also carried an Aerojet propulsion system.

"Aerojet is very pleased with this award," said Dr. Scott Miller, director of the Aerojet Systems and Technology Development Department. "We look forward to working with JHU/APL and NASA on this important scientific mission."

FMI: www.aerojet.com, www.nasa.gov

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