Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, celebrates NASA's recent announcement that Voyager 1 has reached a point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now approximately 10.8 billion miles from the sun, Voyager 1's passage through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer shell of the sun's sphere of influence, and the spacecraft's upcoming departure from our solar system, mark a major milestone as it will become mankind's first interstellar probe. In about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will drift within 1.6 light years (9.3 trillion miles) of AC+79 3888, a star in the constellation of Camelopardalis. Signals to command the thrusters now take more than 16 hours to reach the spacecraft.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched in 1977, and are the oldest operational spacecraft. At launch, each spacecraft carried two propulsion systems, a Delta-V system, including four 100 lbf and four 5 lbf monopropellant hydrazine thrusters made by Aerojet, and an attitude control system including 16 0.2 lbf monopropellant hydrazine thrusters. The Delta-V systems have long since been jettisoned, but the attitude control systems remain operational today. The 100 lbf thrusters are the original version of the thrusters intended for Orion's crew module and the 0.2 lbf thrusters are the original version of the thrusters currently in use for the Global Positioning System Block IIR, and are similar to those newly in service for GPS Block IIF.
"Voyager has transformed our understanding of the solar system," said Aerojet Program Manager Jon Schierberl. "Aerojet is proud to have been a part of the mission every step of the way." Schierberl is one of a handful of people at Aerojet who has worked programs (including Voyager) that have explored or will explore every planet in the solar system.
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