Aerojet Rocketdyne has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force (USAF) to support its efforts to develop new methods for the production of rocket engine technology.
Valued at $6m, the contract will see Aerojet assist the USAF in establishing standards for 3-D printed rocket engines by defining evaluating the quality of the additionally produced components for use in liquid-fuelled rocket engine applications.
The move follows the USAF’s decision to replace the Russian-made RD-180 engines that power the first-stage of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch vehicle.
Aerojet Rocketdyne Advanced Space and Launch Programmes vice-president Julie Van Kleeck said: "New liquid rocket engine designs, like the AR1 engine we are building to replace the Russian-made RD-180, are increasingly taking advantage of 3D printing technology because it reduces the amount of time and money required to build these complex components.
"It is imperative that engine manufacturers understand the qualification methodology for this revolutionary technology because of the criticality of the assets they help launch into space."
In 2014, ATK offered a commercial solid rocket solution in response to a USAF’s request for a replacement for the RD-180 engines.
The request followed Russia’s decision to ban the US from using Russian-made rocket engines for military launches in response to escalation in tensions between the two countries over the Ukrainian crisis.