Aerojet recently completed
three successful series of Strutjet rocket engine tests in its newly
refurbished air breathing engine test facility in Sacramento, Calif. “We achieved our goal to optimize the Strutjet engine’s air-augmented
rocket mode for low speed portions of the mission where high thrust levels are
critical,” said Dick Johnson, Aerojet program manager. Strutjet, able to
operate as both a rocket and a scramjet, is a new type of engine in the early
stages of development for launch vehicles, missiles, and other advanced

The first series of tests, held in early January, included six high
performance rockets fabricated in two integral platelet assemblies. They were
performed using hydrogen/oxygen propellants at 1,500 psi chamber pressure and
a mixture ratio of 7, with secondary fuel injected to burn with bypass air in
the engine duct.

The second series, completed in late January, incorporated Aerojet’s first
flight-type cooled platelet panel built as part of NASA’s Advanced Space
Transportation Program Propulsion Technology and Integration Project. The
flight-type panel successfully survived the ducted rocket thermal

The final series of sea level static hotfire tests were completed
successfully on February 10 demonstrating a further increase in thrust
augmentation with subtle design refinements. These tests also demonstrated
hydrogen cooling of the flight-type panel.

The tests, previously conducted at the GASL facility in Long Island, N.Y.,
were part of the multimillion dollar extension Aerojet received last year from
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for continued development of the Strutjet
Rocket-Based Combined Cycle (RBCC) engine through 2001. The RBCC engine, the
generic version of Strutjet, combines rocket/scramjet technology results in an
engine that can propel a vehicle from the ground to space with better fuel
efficiency and lower cost than traditional rocket engines.

“Moving the tests to Aerojet has increased data quality, reduced test
costs, increased test rate, and provided an environment for conveniently
testing cooled panels,” said Johnson.

Aerojet, a GenCorp company, is a world-recognized aerospace and defense
leader principally serving the space electronics, missile and space
propulsion, and smart munitions and armaments markets. Aerojet’s Web site
address is .