Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc on Monday announced contracts worth $1.36 billion. The contracts from NASA and Boeing Co come the company suffered some setbacks recently.
According to the company it had won a $1.16-billion contract from NASA to restart production of its RS-25 engine once used for the space shuttle program for the new Space Launch System (SLS), a powerful rocket designed to eventually take humans to Mars.
The company added it had improved the RS-25 production lines after the space shuttle programme was retired, to incorporate new technologies such as 3-D printing, lower the number of parts and welds, and boost their efficiency.
The SLS rocket will be propelled by four RS-25 engines to deliver over 2 million pounds of thrust, with a first flight test expected in 2018.
The company further announced it had entered into a contract with Boeing valued at around $200 million for the development, qualification, certification and initial production of the propulsion system for the NASA Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 "Starliner" service module.
The NASA contract would see the space agency restart Aerojet's production line for its RS-25 engines.
Four RS-25s would be used as primary engines in NASA's next big rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which could take humans into deep space and on to Mars some day.
According to commentators, the RS-25 was no alien to heavy lifting vehicles into space and is the mainstay on the Space Shuttle - the predecessor to SLS. However, the engines had had to be modified to ensure that they would work on the SLS.
The new rocket would experience lower cold temperatures than the Shuttle did, and also greater pressures and speeds. NASA had been testing the updated RS-25 engines this past year, to check how they performed under the most extreme conditions.
However, NASA would need many more engines than that. Unlike the Space Shuttle, the SLS would not be recovered after each launch, which required an entirely new rocket to be built for each flight.