The United Launch Alliance (ULA) launch of the SILENTBARKER / NROL-107 mission marks a first for L3Harris. With the addition of Aerojet Rocketdyne to L3Harris, this flight is the first time the company’s propulsion systems and spaceflight avionics have flown on a ULA rocket as one company. Our Performance First culture is the foundation for delivering spaceflight avionics and a full range of propulsion and power systems for rockets, spacecraft and other space vehicles.
Launching from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket, SILENTBARKER / NROL-107 is a classified mission to improve space domain awareness for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and U.S. Space Force.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine, which will mark the 60th anniversary of its first successful mission later this year, provides main propulsion for the Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage. Propelled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, the RL10 engine produces 23,825 pounds of thrust. The highly reliable RL10 has long been a mainstay of U.S. national security and space exploration programs, a legacy that will continue with ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is expected to debut later this year.
In addition to the RL10 for main propulsion, the Centaur relies on 12 Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106 reaction control thrusters to steer the stage in order to place the payload into a precise orbit. Pressure tanks provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ARDÉ subsidiary support both the Centaur as well as the Atlas V rocket’s first stage.
“Helping to launch critical national security assets into orbit is one of our most important missions,” said George Prueger, RL10 program director, Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company. “Our flight proven and reliable RL10 upper-stage engines have supported these types of missions for nearly six decades aboard several different generations of Atlas, Delta and Titan rockets. We look forward to providing them for many years to come.”
The RL10 has been upgraded six times to achieve better performance and reliability since its first successful flight in November 1963. Aerojet Rocketdyne is currently qualifying a new model of the RL10, the RL10C-X, which leverages 3D-printing technology to significantly reduce the cost of the engine while at the same time increasing its performance to provide enhanced mission capability.
The proven launch avionics suite supporting the Atlas V includes communications, range safety receivers, power distribution and control, data acquisition, and navigation. Specifically designed and qualified for use on missiles, launch vehicles and spacecraft, this highly reliable electronic equipment improves performance and controls costs.
This is ULA’s 157th successful launch.