SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 05, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is playing a critical role in placing NASA's Juno spacecraft into orbit to study Jupiter. Juno is the first mission dedicated to the study of the planet's interior to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided 26 propulsion devices and six pressurant tanks aboard the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket during its 2011 launch, as well as 12 propulsion devices on the spacecraft during its five-year journey through space.
"Juno has traveled 1.74 billion miles over the course of nearly five years to get to Jupiter - and our propulsion systems were there the entire time, helping the spacecraft arrive from launch through orbit insertion," said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. "Aerojet Rocketdyne is honored to play such a critical role in the study of our solar system's largest planet, and to know our diverse propulsion capabilities once again delivered with 100 percent mission success. Congratulations to everyone involved in this mission."
Aerojet Rocketdyne's role in the mission has been significant. Juno was launched aboard ULA's powerful Atlas V rocket on Aug. 5, 2011 to help place the spacecraft on its path toward Jupiter.
Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion aboard the Atlas V included an RL10A-4-2 upper-stage engine that provided 22,300 lbf thrust; five solid rocket boosters that offered an average of 250,000 lbf of thrust each; eight retro-rockets for the Centaur separation from the Atlas common core booster; and 12 MR-106 monopropellant hydrazine thrusters on the Atlas V Centaur upper stage that provided roll, pitch and yaw control, as well as settling burns for the upper-stage main engines. The Juno spacecraft includes 12 Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-111C 1.0 lbf monopropellant hydrazine Rocket Engine Assemblies that have provided attitude control for the spacecraft throughout its journey, as well as during insertion into Jupiter's orbit, which occurred on July 4, 2016. ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, provides the pressure vessels on the first and second stages on the launch vehicle.
The Juno mission is designed to give scientists a better understanding of Jupiter's origin and evolution. The spacecraft will orbit Jupiter 37 times over the course of 20 months, mapping the planet's magnetic and gravity fields, determining the abundance of water vapor in the planet's atmosphere and studying the polar magnetosphere and Jovian aurora. The primary science goal is to understand how Jupiter formed. Juno will travel through the previously unexplored region above the planet's poles, collecting the first images from that region, along with data about electromagnetic forces and high-energy particles in the harsh radiation belt environment of Jupiter's inner magnetosphere.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Dr. Scott J. Bolton of Southwest Research Institute. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
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