NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited the Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD) facility in Canoga Park, California today to review the company’s unique capabilities and see first-hand how its employees are making a journey to Mars possible. During his visit, teams of students who participate in robotics competitions, from the Chaminade College Preparatory School in Los Angeles, California and Our Lady of Malibu, in Malibu, California, also demonstrated their latest robotics inventions.

“The future astronauts who will go to Mars are the children in school today,” explained Scott Seymour, president and CEO of Aerojet Rocketdyne. “I hope the passion these children showed with their robotics demonstrations will last throughout their lifetimes and inspire some of them to end up making the trip to Mars.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne is helping make a trip to the red planet possible with its extensive propulsion systems, including the RS-25 core stage engines it is providing for the Space Launch System (SLS) and the propulsion products it is supplying for nearly every component of the Orion spacecraft that will carry human explorers further into deep space than ever before. In addition to these ongoing projects, the company also is working on new solar electric propulsion (SEP) technology that will make transporting cargo to the red planet more efficient and affordable.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne teamed with NASA to deliver the Mars Viking landers in 1976, and we are currently powering the Curiosity rover with our Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermal Generator as it makes its climb up Mount Sharp on Mars,” added Seymour. “Now, the company is looking forward to helping humans take the first steps on the surface of Mars with the help of SLS, Orion and SEP.”

SLS, Orion and SEP will each play critical roles to enable human exploration of Mars. SEP vehicles, developed from the company’s strong heritage in electric propulsion and power systems, will allow cargo to be shipped efficiently to Mars well in advance of the arrival of humans. Orion, the spacecraft that will one day carry humans to Mars, completed its first test flight in December 2014 using Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion from launch to landing. The Orion spacecraft will launch aboard SLS for missions into deep space. SLS, currently in development, will be more capable than any existing launch vehicle. Four RS-25 engines, propulsion system ducting and an RL10 upper stage engine, designed and built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, will power the SLS core stage. Work is currently underway and rapid progress is being made toward the first test launch of SLS in 2018. The company is currently test firing the RS-25 engines to ensure that it can meet demanding SLS performance and other operating requirements, and is refining its design to be more powerful and affordable for future missions.

“The company is completing the second verification test of the RS-25 engine today at NASA’s Stennis Space Center on the same day that Administrator Bolden visited us in California and we recently completed assembly of the 16th RS-25 for SLS,” added Seymour. “Today was a resounding endorsement that the country is putting the building blocks in place for the future.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a diversified company delivering innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, and real estate markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can