Lot #8035
Mars Viking Orbiter RS-21 Rocket Engine

Rocketdyne RS-2101 engine for the Viking Orbiter
This lot has closed

Estimate: $8000+


Rocketdyne RS-2101 engine for the Viking Orbiter

Incredibly rare Rocketdyne RS-2101 Liquid Rocket Engine designed for application on the Mars Viking Orbiter, which transported the first spacecraft to successfully land on the Planet Mars as part of Project Viking. Used in ground testing by North American Rockwell/Rocketdyne, the engine measures 22″ in length by 11″ (the maximum diameter of the engine bell), independent of its Rocketdyne transport case and handling frame. Includes the Gimbal Ring assembly which supported up to 9 degrees off-axis nozzle positioning for thrust vectoring (spacecraft steering), for a total weight of 48 lbs and dimensions of 16″ x 16″ x 22.5″ in its handling frame. Includes red rubber protective cover for the engine bell.

It is a complete engine with fuel injector plate and various stamps indicating use, with a tag dated November 1, 1972, four years before the Viking's flight. The engine was produced by Rocketdyne for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and includes gimbal attachments which allowed the engine to be adjusted on a rotational axis for in-flight course corrections. Its thrust chamber was derived from the Minuteman ballistic missile program.

NASA sent two Viking spacecraft to Mars in the summer of 1976, and each comprised of an orbiter, which would photograph the surface, and a lander, which would study the surface and conduct several experiments. The RS-2101 engine was utilized to provide midcourse trajectory corrections while the Viking was en route to Mars and executed the orbital insertion and orbit trim maneuvers of the Orbiter/Lander spacecraft upon arrival at the red planet. The whole spacecraft would orbit the planet for approximately one month, using the images relayed back to mission control to identify a landing site. The landers then separated and soft landed on the Martian surface, touching down in July and September of 1976. Both orbiters and landers eventually failed or were shut down, but not before achieving all of the mission's scientific objectives, including imaging the Martian surface and searching for evidence of life on the planet. This piece will be crated and shipped from California; the buyer is responsible for all associated costs.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space & Aviation
  • Dates: #581 - Ended April 16, 2020