NASA awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne [AJRD] a $1.2 billion contract to restart production of the RS-25 engine for the Space Launch System (SLS), according to a company statement.
The contract runs through Sept. 30, 2024. Aerojet Rocketdyne said these production lines have been significantly improved and made more efficient since the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Four RS-25s will fly on the bottom of the SLS core stage, together producing more than two million pounds of thrust.
In addition to design simplification, Aerojet Rocketdyne said ongoing value stream mapping (VSM) analyses have identified significant cost and schedule benefits by eliminating inefficiencies, redundancies or waste in the production process flow. VSMs, the company said, were proven effective during the shuttle program and those lessons learned are being applied to the RS-25 restart.
The first SLS flight test is slated for 2018. It will be configured for a 70-metric-ton lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft. The RS-25 was first used on a Shuttle mission in 1981.