Orbital, Aerojet Rocketdyne Disagree on Cause of Antares Explosion

A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.
A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

After the explosion of an Antares rocket in October, NASA left the investigation in the hands of the company’s that bands of the company that built and launched the rocket, Orbital Sciences Corporation (now Orbital ATK). Yesterday, we got the first official word on what that investigation has found. And it’s very confusing.

Orbital ATK Executive Vice President Ronald Grabe said during the 31st Space Symposium that the failure was caused by excessive wear in the bearings of a turbo pump for one of the two first-stage AJ-26 engines supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne.


Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests AR1 Additive Manufacturing Engine Components

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed hot-fire testing of a single-element main injector for the AR1 rocket engine that was completely built using additive manufacturing. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 16, 2015 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, has recently completed a successful series of hot-fire tests of key additively manufactured components for its AR1 booster engine at its Sacramento test facility. The testing of the main injector elements represents another important milestone in the development of the AR1 engine and the company’s commitment to having a certified engine in production in 2019.


Rocketdyne to Layoff About 10 Percent of Workforce

aerojet_rocketdyneBack in the day, a company I worked for launched what it called a “getting fit” initiative. Based on the sound of this elaborate bit of corporatese, you might think this was some effort to get its employees to spend less time hunched over keyboards in their cubicles and more time exercising. And, in a manner of speaking, you’d be right. The over compensated executives who had helped drive the company into a ditch in the first place decided to give 1,500 employees a lot more time to exercise by eliminating their jobs. At Christmas time.

It looks like over 500 employees of Aerojet Rocketdyne will be getting the same opportunity soon. The company has launched a “competitive improvement program….that preserves the company’s accelerated momentum and will leave the company “better positioned to deliver our innovative, high quality and reliable products at a lower cost to our customers.”

In other words, things aren’t going so well (SpaceX) and we need to eliminate jobs to help us keep up with the competition (SpaceX). More disruption of the space industry.

The full press release is below.


Aerojet Rocketdyne President Replaced

aerojet_rocketdyneGenCorp CEO Scott Seymour has replaced Warren Boley as president of subsidiary Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Boley’s departure was effective immediately, said GenCorp spokesman Glenn Mahone.

Seymour announced the news in a statement to employees on Friday, telling them he remained confident in the company’s ability to deliver results for customers, shareholders and employees.

Sources familiar with the company said Boley and Seymour had had differences about the company’s future.

“It was time for a change. There had been differences about the company’s direction,” said one source who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Read the full story.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Established Advanced Propulsion Office in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 16, 2014 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) —
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, announced today the establishment of the company’s Advanced Hydrocarbon Propulsion Development Office (AHPDO) in Huntsville, Alabama.

The facility will focus on delivering a 21st century advanced hydrocarbon rocket engine to the nation and the integration of the company’s ongoing hydrocarbon technology and development efforts. This development work will include the AR1 advanced large hydrocarbon rocket engine, the NASA Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration Risk Reduction program, the U.S. Air Force Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Development program, along with internal Aerojet Rocketdyne research and development involving the company’s Bantam Engine family for lower thrust applications.


GenCorp Completes Acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from UTC

pratt_whitneySACRAMENTO, Calif. (GenCorp PR) – GenCorp Inc. (NYSE: GY) announced today that it has completed the acquisition of substantially all operations of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne business (Rocketdyne) from United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX). GenCorp will combine Rocketdyne with Aerojet-General Corporation (Aerojet), a wholly-owned subsidiary of GenCorp, and the combined businesses will operate as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., headquartered in Sacramento, California.

As part of the Rocketdyne transaction, GenCorp will acquire UTC’s 50% interest in the RD Amross joint venture following receipt of Russian regulatory approvals.


FTC Approves GenCorp’s Purchase of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

pratt_whitneyWASHINGTON (FTC PR) — The Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigation into the proposed acquisition of rocket engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne by aerospace company GenCorp Inc.  Although the FTC concluded that the deal will give GenCorp a monopoly in the market for a type of advanced missile defense interceptor propulsion system, the Commission decided not to challenge the transaction, primarily because the Department of Defense wishes to see the transaction go forward for national security reasons.


Review of GenCorp’s Acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Continues

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 8, 2013 (GenCorp PR) — GenCorp Inc., headquartered in Sacramento, California, announced today that it has received a modification to the request for additional information (“Second Request”) from the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) in connection with the Company’s proposed acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from United Technologies Corporation.

The modification excludes large and medium liquid rocket engines for launch vehicles and spacecraft from the scope of the FTC’s investigation of the proposed acquisition. United Technologies has received a similar modification to the Second Request letter it received.


Aerojet Parent GenCorp to Buy Rocketdyne for $550 Million

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 23, 2012 (GenCorp PR) — GenCorp Inc. (GY), headquartered in Sacramento, California, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) from United Technologies Corporation (UTX) for $550 million.

“We see great strategic value in this transaction for the country, our customers, partner supply base and our shareholders,” GenCorp Chief Executive Officer Scott Seymour said. “The combined enterprise will be better positioned to compete in a dynamic, highly competitive marketplace, and provide more affordable products for our customers.”


Aerojet, Teledyne Brown Finalize Strategic Rocket Alliance

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. and SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. (TBE), a subsidiary of Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:TDY), announced today that it finalized its strategic alliance agreement with Aerojet-General Corporation, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company.

The agreement, which was signed prior to the opening of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, establishes a formal plan for Teledyne Brown and Aerojet to cooperate in the development and production of propulsion systems for launch and in-space applications. The strategic plan has been anticipated since a formal announcement was made on June 2, 2011 by the two companies to pursue this endeavor. The alliance is a departure from the historical single-source method of rocket design and manufacturing, and provides the customer with improved processes and lower-cost solutions.


Aerojet Completes Second Test Firing of Orion Engine

NASA's Orion spacecraft


Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, successfully completed a second set of hot-fire test sequences of its R-1E 25-pound thrust, bipropellant engine. This second test included more than 17,250 seconds of total burn time, demonstrating engine flexibility to operate under a broad variety of conditions expected for NASA’s Orion service module. Initial test results indicate the engine performed successfully in simulated space-flight mission scenarios.


Aerojet Celebrates Launch of Jules Verne


SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Aerojet, a GenCorp NYSE: GY company, announced today that Jules Verne — the first of the European Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) — has successfully launched aboard the European expendable launch system, Ariane 5, out of Kourou in French Guiana.

For the mission, Aerojet delivered four R-4D main engines that will be used to accomplish the early circularization maneuvers and docking simulations. NASA announced that the ATV reached its preliminary orbit about nine minutes after liftoff. When preliminary orbit was achieved, the ATV engines fired for eight minutes to place the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit. About 45 minutes later, a second engine firing circularized the ATV’s orbit prior to spacecraft separation.

Once in orbit, the ATV will undergo four weeks of extensive systems tests, including two approaches to the station to simulate rendezvous and contingency techniques.


Aerojet to help Boeing build new moon rocket

Aerojet and Boeing have signed an associate contractor’s agreement to build the upper stage of the Ares rocket for NASA’s Orion lunar program. The contract also involves four other companies: Hamilton Sundstrand, Jacobs Engineering Group, Moog Inc., and Teledyne Brown Engineering. Aerojet, a division of GenCorp, is based in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Read the Sacramento Bee story here. Aerojet has also issued a press release.