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Aerojet Rocketdyne Delivers Propulsion for Artemis III Mission

LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed the four RS-25 engines that will power the core stage of NASA’s super heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) rocket during the historic Artemis III mission. Slated for launch around the middle of the decade, Artemis III is a planned lunar landing mission that will return humans to the surface of the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years.

“The Artemis III mission is pivotal in our nation’s goal to return American astronauts to the surface of the Moon, establish a sustained presence there and pave the way for crewed missions to Mars,” said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “As our nation makes this next giant leap in its space program, it is leveraging the extensive knowledge and lessons learned that were gained during our earlier exploration efforts, including the Apollo, Space Shuttle and Artemis I missions. We are truly standing on the shoulders of those who pioneered the exploration of deep space.”

The four RS-25 engines that will power the SLS rocket’s core stage during the Artemis III mission have been upgraded following their service during the shuttle program and will now generate about 2 million pounds of combined thrust. The Artemis III RS-25 engines safely flew 138 individual astronauts to orbit and supported 26 Space Shuttle missions, including:

  • Multiple International Space Station assembly missions
  • STS-95: The flight of then-U.S. Senator John Glenn, one of NASA’s original Mercury astronauts
  • STS-114: The Space Shuttle program’s return to flight following the Columbia accident
  • STS-125: The final Hubble servicing mission

In addition to the RS-25 engines, Aerojet Rocketdyne has delivered all of its other propulsion systems for the Artemis III SLS rocket and a majority of the propulsion systems for the Orion spacecraft.

Additional Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion on the Artemis III mission includes the RL10 engine and 12 MR-106 reaction control system thrusters that will support the SLS’s second stage, called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage. Aerojet Rocketdyne also supplies major propulsion elements for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, including the Orion Main Engine; the jettison motor on the Launch Abort System; eight auxiliary engines for trajectory control and positioning on the service module; and 12 reaction control system engines that guide the Orion crew module’s atmospheric re-entry.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Artemis III propulsion contributions are designed, built and tested at various sites across the country, including Los Angeles, California; NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi; West Palm Beach, Florida; Redmond, Washington; Huntsville, Alabama; and Orange, Virginia. The pressurized tanks used for Orion’s life support systems and flotation system for recovery at sea were manufactured and delivered by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ARDÉ subsidiary, located in Carlstadt, New Jersey.

About Aerojet Rocketdyne: Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit and Follow Aerojet Rocketdyne and CEO Eileen Drake on Twitter at @AerojetRdyne and @DrakeEileen.

Media Contacts:
Mary Engola, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 571-289-1371
Todd McConnell, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 561-882-5395

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

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