Aerojet Ships Orion Jettison Motor to White Sands

Aerojet's jettison motor for NASA's Orion crew vehicle.
Aerojet's jettison motor for NASA's Orion crew vehicle.


This first jettison motor shipment increases the technical readiness of the Launch Abort System (LAS) and is a major operational accomplishment as the first full-scale rocket propulsion element to proceed into a system-level flight test.

The jettison motor — a key component of Orion’s Launch Abort System — was shipped to White Sands for this year’s Pad Abort-1, the first test flight for NASA’s next generation human spaceflight program. The LAS is a complex system that must, within milliseconds, be able to pull the crew module to safety away from the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle in the event of an emergency on the pad or during the initial ascent phase.

Orion’s LAS components are being delivered by Orbital Sciences Corporation, (NYSE: ORB – News) for Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT – News), the prime contractor for Orion. Aerojet is responsible for the jettison motor, which would be used on every Orion mission. The jettison motor is a solid rocket motor designed to separate the spacecraft’s LAS from the crew module after it is no longer needed during launch.

“The shipment marks a significant accomplishment for the Orion LAS program. This flight system delivery culminates the past year’s successful Jettison Motor Demonstrator development program where two full-scale hot fire tests and numerous other successful subscale and structural tests verified the design,” said Vice President for Aerojet Space Systems, Julie Van Kleeck.

The Orion crew exploration vehicle is an advanced capsule design utilizing state-of-the-art technology and will be the successor to the space shuttle in transporting humans to and from the International Space Station, the moon and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.

The LAS design, using Lockheed Martin’s and Orbital’s expertise in small rocket systems and Aerojet’s advanced propulsion technology, is a key element in vastly improving the safety of the flight crew as compared to current human spaceflight systems.

The NASA Orion Project is managed out of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston. NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. manages the Orion Launch Abort System element development and integration in partnership with the Orion industry team.