Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine powers ULA’s Atlas V mission for the NRO and US Space Force

September 11, 2023

September 11, 2023

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the SILENTBARKER/NROL-107 mission (Courtesy United Launch Alliance)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the SILENTBARKER/NROL-107 mission (Courtesy United Launch Alliance)

The launch of the SILENTBARKER / NROL-107 mission by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), Centennial, Colorado, USA, marks the first time L3Harris and Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems and spaceflight avionics have flown on a ULA rocket as one company. The SILENTBARKER / NROL-107 is a classified mission aimed at improving space domain awareness for the US National Reconnaissance Office and US Space Force, launching from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its first successful mission later this year, provides main propulsion for the Atlas V’s Centaur upper stage. Since its first successful flight in November 1963, the RL10 has been upgraded six times. Aerojet Rocketdyne is currently qualifying a new model of the RL10, the RL10C-X, which uses Additive Manufacturing technology to significantly reduce the cost of the engine, while increasing its performance to enhance mission capability.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
Sign up

In addition to the RL10 for main propulsion, the Centaur uses twelve Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106 reaction control thrusters to steer the stage and place the payload into a precise orbit. The Centaur and Atlas V rocket’s first stages are both supported by pressure tanks provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ARDÉ subsidiary.

“Helping to launch critical national security assets into orbit is one of our most important missions,” said George Prueger, RL10 programme 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 proven launch avionics suite supporting the Atlas V includes communications, range safety receivers, power distribution and control, data acquisition, and navigation. This electronic equipment is specifically designed and qualified for use on missiles, launch vehicles, and spacecraft. Its high reliability improves performance and helps control costs.

This marks ULA’s 157th successful launch.

Download Metal AM magazine
September 11, 2023

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Download PDF

Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • Metal powders in Additive Manufacturing: An exploration of sustainable production, usage and recycling
  • Inside Wayland Additive: How innovation in electron beam PBF is opening new markets for AM
  • An end-to-end production case study: Leveraging data-driven machine learning and autonomous process control in AM
  • Consolidation, competition, and the cost of certification: Insight from New York’s AM Strategies 2024
  • Scandium’s impact on the Additive Manufacturing of aluminium alloys
  • AM for medical implants: An analysis of the impact of powder reuse in Powder Bed Fusion

The world of metal AM to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of Metal AM magazine, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our twice weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Discover our magazine archive…

The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.

Browse the archive

Looking for AM machines, metal powders or part manufacturing services?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our comprehensive advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of Metal AM magazine.

  • AM machines
  • Process monitoring & calibration
  • Heat treatment & sintering
  • HIP systems & services
  • Pre- & post-processing technology
  • Powders, powder production and analysis
  • Part manufacturers
  • Consulting, training & market data
View online
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap