Aerojet Celebrates Apollo Lunar Landings 40th Anniversary
SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 20, 2009 – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, is proud to join NASA and the American people in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the historic first human steps on the moon.
On July 16, 1969 a Saturn V launch vehicle launched the Apollo 11 mission, sending three American astronauts — Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins — on their inaugural mission to the moon. On July 20 Neil Armstrong stepped off the Apollo Lunar Module (LM), named Eagle, and declared that he had made "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The major elements of the Apollo spacecraft were the Lunar Module (LM) with a descent stage and an ascent stage, the Service Module, and the Command Module. The LM descent stage remains on the lunar surface, while the LM ascent stage was used to return the astronauts to the orbiting Service Module / Command Module and the Service Module engine was fired to bring them home. Aerojet’s support of the Apollo program began within a few months of President Kennedy’s historic commitment to “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
Aerojet’s contributions included the Service Module propulsion system (SPS), 16 bipropellant reaction control system (RCS) thrusters on the LM and 16 on the Service Module, as well as the propellant tanks for the LM ascent stage. The RCS was used in concert with the LM descent engine during the final seconds when Neil Armstrong manually guided Eagle past large boulders on the surface of the moon to a safe landing. The reaction control thrusters were used throughout all of the Apollo missions but played an especially critical role in the historic rescue of Apollo 13 when the LM was used as a lifeboat to return the crew safely to Earth. The SPS was the one engine that had to work for the astronauts to leave lunar orbit and return to Earth.
Aerojet senior staff engineer Carl Stechman, who recently celebrated his 50th year at Aerojet, remembers his pivotal contribution to developing the bipropellant engines. “I have been privileged to support America’s human space missions since their inception,” said Mr. Stechman. “Our engines have enjoyed 100 percent mission success on Apollo and the Space Shuttle, and I look forward to continuing this track record on the Orion program.”
Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, defense and armaments markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems with a real estate segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale, and leasing of the company’s excess real estate assets. Additional information about Aerojet and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ Web sites at http://www.Aerojet.com and http://www.GenCorp.com.