Monopropellant (hydrazine) thrusters
Aerojet Rocketdyne
Sacramento, CA

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp company, played a vital role in placing the second of three next-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS-L) into orbit for NASA. In the second stage of launch, a single RL10A-4-2 engine ignited to place the TDRS-L into orbit, helped by 12 Aerojet Rocketdyne monopropellant (hydrazine) thrusters in four modules on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V Centaur upper stage, providing roll, pitch, and yaw control, as well as propellant settling burns during ascent. The RL10A-4-2 engine delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust to power the Atlas V upper-stage, using cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants during its operation. ARDe, a New Jersey-based subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne, provides the pressure vessels on the first and second stages of the launch vehicle. TDRS-L will use a single R-4D 100-lbf thruster for orbit insertion.

TDRS-L is the latest addition to NASA’s constellation of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, which were first launched more than 30 years ago. The network transfers data from orbiting spacecraft, including the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, to ground controllers on Earth. The TDRS-L is the second of three satellites in the third generation of TDRS.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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