GEM 63XL engines will fly ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket in 2021.
WASHINGTON – Northrop Grumman on Aug. 13 completed the first test qualification of a new rocket-engine engine developed for the upcoming United Launch Alliance vehicle, the Vulcan Centaur, the company said.
The static firing of the 63-inch diameter epoxy graphite engine known as the GEM 63XL occurred at the Northrop Grumman facility in Promontory, Utah.
During the test the engine fired approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of impulse to qualify the engine’s internal insulation, propulsion grain, ballistics and nozzle, said Charlie Precourt, Northrop Grumman vice president of propulsion systems.
Northrop Grumman last month delivered to the ULA three GEM 63 solid-state rocket engines that will fly later this year in an Atlas 5 vehicle.
The GEM 63 is 66 feet tall and the GEM 63XL version is 72 feet tall. GEM 63XL engines will fly the Vulcan Centaur rocket in 2021.
GEM belt engines were first developed in the early 1980s. The GEM 40 was used in the UTA Delta 2 launch vehicle. The GEM 46 flew in the Delta 2 Heavy, and the GEM 60 flew in the Delta 4 launch before launching in pension in 2019.