Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Takes Shot at SpaceX

Engine maker Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has taken what Florida Today correctly calls a “thinly veiled swipe” at rival SpaceX. The company has put out the ad above that includes a microphone on the left side under the words “Other’s idea of making noise” and one of the company’s success launches on the other with the word “Ours.” The text below the image reads:

While the other guys launch powerful press conferences, we power launches of people and critical payloads. In fact, we’ve powered 14 launches in 12 months with 100% success. While the other guys deliver press conferences, we deliver astronauts and important communication, science and national defense payloads. So, before you listen to their next promise, scan the tag and watch all 14 zero-fail launches. At

The ads take aim at one of SpaceX’ key vulnerabilities: a shortage of actual launches. The California-based start up successfully launched two Falcon 9 rockets in 2010, but none since December of that year. The next launch is set to take place no earlier than late March — a gap of nearly 15 months.

During that same period, SpaceX has unveiled two new projects: the heavy-lift Falcon Heavy, which is scheduled to arrive at the Vandenberg launch site by the end of 2012; and Grasshopper, a suborbital test vehicle designed to develop technologies that would allow Falcon 9 rockets to become fully reusable. The company is also a contractor for the Stratolaunch Systems launcher.

Florida Today reports that SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham called the ad “silly.”

“Making history, producing amazing technology, and shaking up the industry might make us newsworthy, but they aren’t running ads because of our press coverage,” she said. “That we have emerged as a serious competitor in the launch business, with a manifest that is growing every day, that might be another story.”

Florida Today says the ads “have been running for about six weeks in Washington, D.C.-based political media outlets, directed toward policy makers in Congress and the Obama administration. The president’s proposed 2013 budget will be unveiled early next month.”

  • Paul451

    “we power launches of people […] we deliver astronauts”

    No. No you don’t.

  • JohnHunt

    SpaceX will have the last laugh.

  • reader

    Launch rate talks. SpaceX would be awesome if they ever actually launched anything to orbit.
    At the current rate, they will have a LONG time before they catch up to Soyuz historical record of about a launch a week.

  • The space shuttle main engines were built by P&W R. NASA flew three shuttle missions within the 12-month time period mentioned in the ad. The SSMEs suffered no catastrophic failures in 135 missions. That’s 405 separate firings. It’s remarkable because they were initially considered to be the part of the shuttle most likely to cause a fatal accident. Never happened.

  • Steve

    This ad is just sad on sooo many levels. 1) P&W has received zillions of tax payor dollars to get where they are (not certain what zillion equates to exactly), 2) P&W has had years and years to exploit this area yet just does what the government pays them to do, and 3) this ad just screams out that they are just trying to get the next taxpayor dollar (i.e. lobby). Why can’t they just recognize that the costs are too high for society to truly exploit the resources in space and at least attempt to improve this model instead of just continually leaching more and more off the taxpayers. P&W knows how to compete in jet engines (at least I thought so), why are they scared to compete in rocket engines? I have not been following the jet engine market lately, is GE eating P&W’s lunch?

  • Paul451

    “we power […] deliver”

    Present tense. Which makes it a lie. PWR has no manned capacity.

  • Paul451:

    If you want to get all technical about it, the SpaceX spokeswoman said the company has a “manifest that is growing every day.”

    Somehow, I don’t think they’ve signing a new payload daily.

    What do you call that claim?

  • Paul451


    “While the other guys deliver press conferences, we deliver astronauts”

    IMO, it’s devious. It implies that the company has a current manned capacity. Atlas is no readier to launch astronauts than Falcon 9, and that’s the closest PWR is to “delivering astronauts”. (Hell, PWR doesn’t even have an ISS cargo capability until one of the NewSpace players finally uses Atlas.) A PR flak saying “growing every day” is using a lazy figure of speech, this ad campaign seems much more cynical.

    The US doesn’t have a manned launch capacity. You are utterly dependent on an over-priced foreign launcher that has an increasingly spotty record. That should be seen as something of a crisis in political circles, and a funding priority (over SLS and other long-term programs.) This kind of ad, aired for DC insiders, by sleazily implying that companies like PWR are “delivering astronauts”, dilutes that feeling of crisis. It undercuts anyone campaigning for CCDev (using the “crisis” argument) by implying that everything’s fine.

    (Hope that explains it better.)

  • 6 years ago. 6 years later.
    Time has changed everything.

  • homedawg007

    Wow, and Falcon Heavy just performed a flawless launch and landing earlier today. How times have changed.