Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp company, has shipped the first set of four solar electric propulsion thrusters to Lockheed Martin at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Lockheed Martin will integrate the Aerojet Rocketdyne SEP thrusters and associated power conditioning units and electrical cabling with the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) spacecraft.
After final integration and testing, the completed satellite will ultimately be shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to support a planned late 2015 or early 2016 launch on an Atlas V 541 expendable launch vehicle.
The GOES-R SEP thrusters are commonly referred to as arcjet thrusters. Arcjet thrusters use the electric power generated by the spacecraft’s solar arrays to generate and sustain an electric arc inside a hydrazine rocket engine, boosting the performance of the engine by a factor of 3. The arcjet thrusters enable launch of the GOES-R satellite on an Atlas V 541, resulting in substantial launch cost savings over an all-chemical propulsion approach.
The satellite will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere and space weather monitoring, resulting in more timely and accurate weather forecasts. The technology will also improve support for the observations of meteorological phenomena.