British rocket engine ready for Jupiter task

When the US space agency’s latest probe to Jupiter tries to enter into orbit around the planet on Tuesday, it will be relying on a British rocket engine. The Juno satellite is rapidly bearing down on the gas giant after a five-year journey from Earth. It must slow itself to get captured by the gravity of the giant world.This all-or-nothing job will be performed by its Leros-1b engine built by Moog-ISP in Westcott, Buckinghamshire.

“It’s a tremendous thing for us,” said Moog’s chief engineer, Dr Ian Coxhill. “The engine has to work for Juno to get into orbit; it has to burn at a precise time and burn for a continuous duration of at least 20 mins.  Westcott has a proud history in the development of rocket engines “There’ll be some frayed nerves, for sure.”

The Leros-1b was chosen to be the main engine on the Nasa satellite by its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.Previous American space agency missions have also used the Westcott technology, including the Messenger probe that went into orbit around Mercury in 2011. So, there is high confidence this latest engine will be up to the task.Indeed, Juno has already fired it during the epic journey to Jupiter.

Back in 2012, the Leros had to operate reliably twice to refine the trajectory of the spacecraft, and on each occasion the engine burned flawlessly for more than 20 minutes. Edited from : Juno mission: British rocket engine ready for Jupiter task

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