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Aerojet Celebrates Apollo Lunar Landings 40th Anniversary

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:23 pm via: source
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SACRAMENTO, Calif., (Aerojet) – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, is proud to join NASA and the American people to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the historic first human steps on the moon.

On July 16, 1969 the Saturn V launch vehicle launched the Apollo 11 capsule, sending three American astronauts — Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins — on their inaugural mission to the moon. Four days later, on July 20 Neil Armstrong stepped off the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), known as Eagle, and declared those first footsteps “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), the Service Module and the Command Module comprised the major elements of the Apollo spacecraft. The LEM remained on the lunar surface, while the service module was used to return the astronauts to the command module which ultimately brought them safely home. Aerojet’s support of the Apollo program began within about a year of President John Kennedy’s historic commitment to “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

Aerojet’s contributions included the 20,000-lbf service module propulsion system (SPS), sixteen 100-lbf bipropellant reaction control system (RCS) thrusters on the LEM and 16 on the service module. The service module engine, in concert with the smaller engines, allowed Neil Armstrong to manually guide Apollo past large boulders on the surface of the moon to a safe landing. The RCS thrusters were used throughout all of the Apollo missions but played an especially critical role in the historic rescue of Apollo 13.

Aerojet senior staff engineer Carl Stechman, who recently celebrated his 50th year at Aerojet, remembers his personal 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.”

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