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May 12, 2021

Aerojet’s RL10C-X prototype engine passes altitude hot fire test

Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed an altitude hot fire test series of its 3D printed RL10C-X next-generation engine.

The Aerojet Rocketdyne 3D printed RL10C-X next-generation engine has completed an altitude hot fire test series at the company’s facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, US.

The propulsion systems manufacturer said that the prototype engine went through the ‘rigors of a typical spaceflight mission’ throughout the testing.

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen P Drake said: “Successfully completing this test series validates our approach to incorporating 3D-printing technology into the RL10 programme in order to reduce cost while maintaining the engine’s unmatched performance.”

During the recent test series, the engine showed both long-duration operation and engine ignition capabilities at extreme in-flight conditions.

The RL10C-X was tested in a flight-like configuration to prove the engine’s capability to complete a typical mission profile and several restarts.

This was done using a test chamber that simulates the vacuum of outer space. The RL10C-X produces nearly 24,000lb of thrust.

It is the company’s RL10 upper-stage engine and comprises major components such as the injector and combustion chamber, produced with the company’s advanced 3D printing technology.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Space Business Unit senior vice-president Jim Maser said: “The outstanding progress we’ve made on this programme demonstrates the maturity of the entire RL10C-X engine system for operational use.

“This test series, the first for this full configuration, completed more than 600 seconds of run time in only two test runs.

“This accomplishment not only demonstrates the capability and robustness of the RL10 design, but also the tremendous depth of experience this team has with hydrogen engine development and evolution.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing the RL10C-X in association with the US Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Last December, Lockheed Martin signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings for $4.4bn.

 

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