Lot #4510
Mars Viking Orbiter RS-21 Rocket Engine

Rocketdyne RS-2101 engine for the Viking Orbiter, tested to a dramatic failure
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Estimate: $15000+

The 30 Minute Rule begins October 15 at 7:00 PM. An Initial Bid Must Be Placed By October 15 at 6:00 PM To Participate After 6:00 PM


Rocketdyne RS-2101 engine for the Viking Orbiter, tested to a dramatic failure

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, this engine was pushed to a dramatic failure, rupturing the expansion bell and leaving it with some interesting metal coloration on the outside and within. Includes the Gimbal Ring assembly which supported up to 9 degrees off-axis nozzle positioning for thrust vectoring (spacecraft steering), for overall dimensions of 16″ x 16″ x 23″ in its handling frame.

Engine has a low serial number ("S/N 0007"). 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 were 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. No sale/export of this item to non-US Citizens or entities.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space & Aviation
  • Dates: October 08 - October 15