Aerojet Rocketdyne Adds 100 Jobs in Huntsville

AR1 engine (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 30, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), announced it is moving forward with plans to produce America’s newest advanced rocket engine, the AR1, in Huntsville, Alabama, resulting in the creation of 100 new jobs. AR1 is the latest engine in development by Aerojet Rocketdyne, America’s premier large liquid rocket engine manufacturer.

“Our world-class workforce is very excited to rapidly bring the AR1 engine into production – it will support the Trump administration’s efforts to make our military strong again,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “The AR1 rocket engine is crucial to ensuring America’s assured access to space and making U.S. launch vehicles competitive across the globe.”

The AR1 is being developed to provide the United States with a new, world-competitive, state-of-the-art engine for launch vehicles and will end American dependency on Russian engines for national security and civil space launches. The company is currently developing and testing AR1 engine systems and is on schedule to deliver a certified engine in 2019 to meet the congressionally-mandated deadline to end U.S. dependence on foreign engine suppliers.

“Given the top-tier talent at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Propulsion Research Center, the exceptional level of rocket engine expertise at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and at our teammate, Dynetics, and in the local community, Huntsville is the logical choice to locate the new production work on the AR1 engine,” added Drake.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s latest Southeast expansion is the third such announcement within the last year. Recently, the company announced the establishment of its Defense Business Unit headquarters and the relocation of its Rocket Shopâ„  Defense Advanced Programs division to the “Rocket City.” Additionally, the company is expanding its presence at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to accommodate final assembly and hot fire testing of AR1 as well as assembly and hot fire testing of the RS-25 rocket engine that will power NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) beginning in 2018. The RS-25 is a highly reliable engine that produces more than 500,000 pounds of thrust and can be used to power single or multiple missions.

“AR1 capitalizes on proven technology, propellants and an engine cycle that are compatible with existing and future launch systems. In addition, the AR1 rocket engine incorporates the latest innovations, like advanced 3-D printing of rocket engine components, to answer the urgent needs of America’s national security in a very affordable way,” said Drake.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is the only company in the United States that has developed and produced large liquid-fueled rocket engines that have powered the launches of America’s most critical missions, including every launch for the United States Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and every astronaut launched from U.S. soil.

In addition to the RS-25 and AR1 rocket engines, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s flight-proven RS-68 is America’s most powerful liquid rocket engine currently in production, providing more than 700,000 pounds of thrust to launch national security missions on the Delta IV launch vehicle. Additionally, the company’s RL10 rocket engine has powered every upper stage on the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles – more than 100 consecutive successful launches. The RL10 has also been selected by NASA to power the SLS’s new Exploration Upper Stage that will send a new generation of American space vehicles to explore deep space and “unlock the mysteries of space” as President Trump stated in his inaugural address.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is an innovative company delivering solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense markets. The company is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne can be obtained by visiting our websites at www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com.

  • P.K. Sink

    Interesting…I wonder what AR knows that the rest of us don’t.

  • That kerosene is denser than methane and storable at room temperature and ambient pressure perhaps? Maybe they figured out how to pressurize rocket tanks without helium.

  • P.K. Sink

    Good thoughts. I wonder if they’ve figured out who’s gonna buy it.

  • That’s hard to say, but outside of the problems of helium pressurization, I would be happy to have it around and available for the US military to use.

    When it comes to big new modern rocket engines, more is better I say.

    Coming from someone who has been working this problem since the 90’s.

  • P.K. Sink

    Any clue as to whether it could be part of a reusable system?

  • Since it’s a 500 Klb class engine (I think) I don’t see why it couldn’t be used on any monster rocket. I’m not sure if the military is interested in that kind of thing, though. Most nations seem to be migrating to small multistage solids.

  • Hypx

    Has anyone ever attempted to use propane as a substitute for kerosene? Propane has enough vapor pressure to avoid having to use helium, and could conceivable work with a kerosene engine. There’s also been some talk of using Dimethyl Ether ( https://www.freelists.org/post/arocket/Thoughts-on-low-pressure-fuels,37 ) which gives similar performance to RP-1 but with higher density than propane. DME also won’t need helium, as far as I understand it.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    You just have to find someone to build the air frame and developed the vehicle components. The only launch vehicle build left besides SpaceX, ULA & Blue is Orbital-ATK. But I hear they are more interested in solid booster(s) with a Blue BE-3U powered upper for a large launch vehicle.

    IMHO there is not much future for a new staged combustion KeroLox. There is already the SpaceX Raptor and the Blue BE-4 500klb class MethoLox engines well along in development. The AR-1 is about 8 years too late to start a program. AFAIK Blue does not have any funding or return on investment issues. Since Bezos got his Amazon business.

  • Jeff2Space

    AR-1 is going to be more expensive than Blue Origin’s BE-4, so ULA will almost certainly pick the BE-4 over the AR-1 for their new Vulcan launch vehicle.

  • Jeff2Space

    Propane would need to be cooled and stored in insulated tanks since propane at “room temperature” is a gas, not a liquid. That adds cost and complexity over kerosene. That is, unless you sub-cool the kerosene to make it even more dense than it already is.

  • Jeff2Space

    There are no firm customers for AR-1. They are hoping that the BE-4 engine for ULA’s Vulcan launch vehicle will not be fully developed.

  • savuporo

    There are oh so many engines and rockets ‘well along in development’ all across the world. How’s that KVTK coming along by the way? Or, XRS-2200 ?

    Lets see one take flight .. AR1 elements and power packs have been ‘in development’ since 1995 or so, with AFRL and others involved. Nothing to show so far, likewise for Raptor.

  • camping

    LNG/LOX BE-4 FTW.

  • P.K. Sink

    Yeah, that’s my point. Why sink a lot of money into infrastructure when your chance of return is a real gamble…and your competitor has got billions of dollars to spend? Unless your political patrons are telling you that the fix is in.

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    What’s the alternative? AJR give up on building main engines, it’s a very important staple of their company and given the recent decisions to end business with AJR engines (RS-68, Atlas SRB’s, RL-10) they need anything they can get right now.

    Their USG contracts will keep the doors open till they can figure something out

  • camping

    and way behind schedule.

  • P.K. Sink

    OK…so this move will help keep the Richard Shelby money pipeline flowing. Makes sense. Maybe they won’t even need to ever find a customer. Kinda like that test stand they finished out there…long after the need for it had disappeared. (I forget the details.)

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    Bingo

  • Hypx

    Compared to liquid methane, propane would need much less insulation and cooling. Conceivably, the elimination of helium pressurization systems in the rocket itself will save more money than the extra cost of insulated tanks when compared to kerosene.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    I am puzzle by your comment on the SpaceX Raptor. Since there was a completed unit on the test stand last September. Which they fire up and presumably continue to test fire.

  • savuporo

    J-2x was also on test stand. And full report hasn’t been by the way, someone tested a preburner.

    Ares-1x was also on test stand, so was Beal and many others

  • publiusr

    I wanted Dynetics F-1 re-boot.

    ULA’s Vulcan needs to be Pyrios