Upgraded XR-5 Thruster Successfully Tested on X-37 Space Plane

Upgraded XR-5A Hall thruster (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Upgraded XR-5A Hall thruster (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 1, 2015 – Aerojet Rocketdyne’s (NYSE:AJRD) improved XR-5 Hall Thruster (designated XR-5A) has successfully completed initial on-orbit validation testing on the unmanned X-37 space plane, which is presently on its fourth mission in space. The Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile Systems Center, and Rapid Capabilities Office collaborated to host the XR-5A Hall Thruster experiment on Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4.

The XR-5A Hall Thruster is an enhanced version of the Aerojet Rocketdyne XR-5 Hall Thruster. Both thrusters are five kilowatt class Hall Thrusters; however, the XR-5A incorporates modifications that improve performance and operating range. Aerojet Rocketdyne has manufactured and delivered 16 XR-5 Hall Thrusters and flown 12 to date. As with most new product introductions, Aerojet Rocketdyne is introducing a product upgrade to incorporate improvements identified after the initial low-rate production and flight programs.

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Russia Plans Angara Launches in 2012, Works on Answer to X-37

Angara rocket engine test

A couple of brief updates from Russia:

The long-delayed Angara rocket will be ready for testing next year. “We plan that it will be fully prepared for launch in 2012. Everything is going according to plan,” said Space Troops chief Oleg Ostapenko.

Angara is a modular family of rockets designed to be the mainstay for Russia’s strategic launches, replacing several existing rockets. It will be capable of launching between 2 and 40.5 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit. Development of the rocket has been delayed several years due to financial shortfalls.

Ostapenko also told reporters that Russia is developing a spacecraft similar to the U.S. X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle that flew last year.

“Something has been done along these lines, but as to whether we will use it, only time will tell,” Ostapenko said.

Read the full stories here and here.

Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Returning Home By Monday

30th Space Wing Public Affairs

Preparations for the first landing of the X-37B are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Space professionals from the 30th Space Wing will monitor the de-orbit and landing of the Air Force’s first X-37B, called the Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1). While the exact landing date and time will depend on technical and weather considerations, it is expected to occur between Friday, December 3, and Monday, December 6, 2010.

Debate Over U.S. Military’s Hypersonic First-Strike Technology

Spate of Hypersonic Vehicle Tests Fuels Global Strike Debate
National Defense Magazine

The military’s reusable space plane, the X-37B, and its classified payload lifted off in April only one day after the maiden flight of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 suborbital glider. It flew nine minutes before operators lost its signal and were forced to abort the mission.

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