United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 rocket engine to power the upper stage that will fly atop ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle. The selection came as part of a long-term agreement between the two companies that calls for Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide RL10 upper-stage rocket engines to support ULA’s current and future launch vehicles.
“Having the RL10 selected to support Vulcan Centaur means ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne will continue working together to extend our track record of mission success well into the future,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “We look forward to working alongside the outstanding team at ULA to make the Vulcan Centaur rocket a reality in order to provide reliable and affordable access to space for our nation.”
“ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne have a long and successful history together that began with the first flight of our Atlas and Delta rockets in the 1960s,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “We could not be more pleased to have selected the proven and reliable RL10 to power our Vulcan Centaur upper stage.”
While some terms of the agreement remain confidential, it includes a long-term commitment by ULA to use RL10 engines on the company’s current Centaur and next-generation Centaur upper stages for future ULA procurements, as well as a joint commitment to invest in next-generation engine development.
“The agreement also defines a path forward that will enable us to develop the next generation of RL10 engines that will incorporate additive manufacturing and other advanced technologies to make the engine more affordable while retaining its proven performance and reliability,” continued Drake.
Last year, Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully hot-fire tested a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 that was built from a copper alloy using a 3-D printing technique known as selective laser melting or SLM. Since then, the company has been working to develop and qualify a variety of components that take advantage of SLM technology.
“With nearly 500 engines flown in space over the last five decades, the RL10 has earned an unmatched reputation in the industry,” said Drake. “We will continue to build this proud legacy by supporting ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket for many years to come.”