Spacecraft To Be Powered By Hydrazine Propulsion Systems
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
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
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.
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."