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Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion hardware played a key role in the successful launch of a classified U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload from Space Launch Complex 41 here aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
“We take our role in helping to launch critical national security assets into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office very seriously,” said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s CEO and president. “Our flight proven and reliable RL10 upper-stage engines have supported these types of missions for nearly six decades, and we look forward to providing them for many years to come.”
The Atlas V’s Centaur cryogenic upper stage is powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine, which is built in West Palm Beach, Florida, and completed its 500th flight earlier this year. The highly reliable RL10 has long been a mainstay of U.S. national security and space exploration programs, a legacy that will continue with ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is expected to debut next year.
For pitch, yaw and roll control, the Centaur relies on 12 Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106 reaction control thrusters built in Redmond, Washington. Pressure tanks provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ARDÉ subsidiary, located in Carlstadt, New Jersey, support both the Centaur as well as the rocket’s first stage.