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Aerojet Rocketdyne and Kratos Successfully Hot-fire Zeus 2 Advanced Large Solid Rocket Motor for Hypersonic Test and Ballistic Missile Target Applications

Aerojet Rocketdyne
Apr 15, 2024 | 2 MINUTE Read

Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company, successfully hot-fired the second of two high-performance large solid rocket motors at its Camden, Arkansas site. The Zeus 2 solid rocket motor was developed commercially with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to support hypersonic, ballistic missile defense, suborbital and other testing requirements.

The hot firing of the Zeus 2 motor follows a similar test of the smaller Zeus 1 motor in 2023. Zeus 2 is nearly twice as long as the Zeus 1.  The motors are intended for use by U.S. Department of Defense customers for hypersonic vehicle and ballistic missile defense testing, among other applications.

“The Zeus program is a great example of industry taking the initiative to modernize and simultaneously lower the cost of systems critical to U.S. national security,” said Ross Niebergall, President, Aerojet Rocketdyne. “We look forward to delivering these advanced large solid rocket motors and our continued partnership with Kratos to serve the needs of our defense customers.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne is under contract to Kratos to develop, manufacture and deliver nine additional Zeus motors.

Eric DeMarco, President and CEO of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, said, “Kratos is pleased to announce the successful completion of the Zeus 1 and Zeus 2 solid rocket motor (SRM) development program. The Zeus 2 static test represents the culmination of Kratos’ approximately three year, significant internally-funded investment to introduce a new family of Zeus SRMs that will enable rapid and affordable hypersonic testing and make Kratos ‘first to market’ with this highly relevant propulsion system to support DoD, space and commercial customers.”

The Zeus motors replace legacy suborbital rocket motors in fit and form while offering increased performance. This allows use of the motors with existing rocket designs and infrastructure. The increase in performance and ease of integration allows space and defense research customers the opportunity to fly faster, farther and more often.

The Kratos motors were designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne in Huntsville and were cast and test-fired at the company’s nearly 2,000-acre manufacturing site in Camden, Arkansas.

“Our Rocket Test facilities give us the capability to conduct testing in-house, ensuring safety and reliability, verifying performance and simulating environmental conditions to produce a reliable, efficient rocket motor that meets customer and warfighter needs,” said Camden Site Director Chandra Hooker.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Camden site conducts more than 6,000 hot fire tests of a wide range of motors each year.