Aerojet Rocketdyne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Aerojet Rocketdyne
Industry Aerospace
Predecessor Aerojet
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
Founded 2013
Headquarters Sacramento, California, U.S.
Products Rocket motor and missile propulsion
Parent Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings

Aerojet Rocketdyne is an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer. Headquartered in Sacramento, California,[1] the company is owned by Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings. Aerojet Rocketdyne was formed in 2013 when Aerojet (then owned by GenCorp) and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne were merged, following the latter's acquisition by GenCorp from Pratt & Whitney.[2][3] On April 27, 2015, the name of the holding company, GenCorp, was changed from GenCorp, Inc. to Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc.[4]


Current engines[edit]

  • RS-25 (LH2/LOX) – Reusable main engine for the retired Space Shuttle. Remaining shuttle engines are scheduled for use on Space Launch System first stage launches after which an expendable version, RS-25E will be developed for follow-on SLS launches.
  • RL10 (LH2/LOX) – Developed by Pratt & Whitney and currently used on both the upper stage of the Delta IV as well as the Centaur upper stage for the Atlas V. Formerly used on the Centaur upper stage for Titan, the Saturn I, and on the vertical-landing McDonnell Douglas DC-X "Delta Clipper". It was intended to serve as the main propulsion engine for the proposed Altair lunar lander.
  • RS-68 (LH2/LOX) – First stage engine for the Delta IV.
  • J-2X (LH2/LOX) – Engine was originally being developed for the Ares I's upper stage before the cancellation of the Constellation program. The engine was considered for the Space Launch System's Exploration Upper Stage before being replaced with a cluster of four RL10s.
  • Baby Bantam (kerosene/LOX) – In June 2014, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced that they had "manufactured and successfully tested an engine which had been entirely 3D printed." The engine is a 22 kN (5,000 lbf) thrust engine.[5]
  • AJ-26 (RP-1/LOX) – Rebranded and modified NK-33 engines imported from Russia. Used as first stage engine for the Antares.
  • AJ-60A – solid rocket motors for Atlas V launch vehicle.
  • Blue Origin CCE (SRM) — the Blue Origin New Shepard Crew Capsule Escape Solid Rocket Motor is built by Aerojet Rocketdyne.[6]

Former production engines[edit]

In development[edit]


The AR1 is a 2,200-kilonewton-class (500,000 lbf) thrust RP-1/LOX advanced oxidizer-rich staged combustion cycle engine project.[7] Aerojet Rocketdyne proposed in 2014 to "lobby the government to fund an all-new, U.S.-sourced rocket propulsion system." In June 2014, Aerojet's initially projected it would cost under US$25 million per pair of engines, not including the up to US$1 billion estimated development cost to be funded by the government.[8][9] Later in 2014, the US Congress passed a law requiring the US Air Force to "develop a new propulsion system by 2019 to replace the RD-180 engine" that powers Atlas V used by United Launch Alliance (ULA).[10] Dynetics is a key partner in development of the AR1 engine. Under a joint venture agreement, Dynetics is to supply elements of the engine's main propulsion system, the ignition system, and ground support equipment, along with analysis support to critical engine designs.[11]

ULA announced in early February 2015 that they are considering undertaking domestic production of the Russian RD-180 engine at its Decatur, Alabama rocket manufacturing facility. The US-manufactured engines would be used only for government civil (NASA) or commercial launches, and would not be used for US military launches. ULA CEO Tory Bruno also indicated that ULA is considering the AR1 option, along with the US manufacture of the RD-180 by ULA under license as backup options to the primary option ULA is pursuing for the Atlas V successor with the Blue Origin BE-4 metha/LOX engine.[12]

The AR1 engine has the advantage of matching the fuel configuration of the Atlas V launch vehicle. However, it is disadvantaged by being much earlier in the development process for a new rocket engine to replace the high performing RD-180 engine.[13][14][15] In February 2015, the USAF released the results of its analysis of the project to build a new US government-funded engine in five years, and said that the "2019 deadline was too aggressive given that it would likely take six to eight years to develop an alternate U.S.-built engine, plus another year or two to integrate the new engine with existing rockets."[10] Aerojet Rocketdyne has stated a commitment to delivering the AR1 in 2019.[16]

In September 2015, AJR made an offer to buy ULA for US$2 billion. Shortly thereafter however, ULA and Blue Origin announced a joint agreement to expand production capabilities in order to manufacture the BE-4 rocket engine currently in development and test. ULA also reconfirmed that the decision on using the BE-4 vs. AJR AR1 for the new Vulcan rocket would not be made until late 2016, with maiden flight of Vulcan continuing to be planned for no earlier than 2019.[17]

The U.S. Air Force awarded a $115 million contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne for development of the AR1 engine to be completed in 2019. Contract options could increase government funding up to $501 million.[18][19] Aerojet had received US$228 million in funding for AR-1 through June 2017.[20] In April 2017, Aerojet announced that the engine would be built in a new factory planned to be built in Huntsville, Alabama.[21]


The AR-22 is an engine currently in development for the XS-1 spacecraft, based on the Space Shuttle Main Engine and utilizing parts remaining in Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA inventories from earlier versions of the SSME. Two of the engines will be built for the spaceplane.[22]

X3 ion thruster[edit]

On 13 October 2017, it was reported that Aerojet Rocketdyne completed a keystone demonstration on a new X3 ion thruster, which is a central part of the XR-100 system for the NextSTEP program.[23][24] The X3 ion thruster was designed by the University of Michigan[25] and is being developed in partnership with the University of Michigan, NASA, and the Air Force. The X3 is a Hall-effect thruster operating at over 100 kW of power. During the demonstration, it broke records for the maximum power output, thrust and operating current achieved by a Hall thruster to date.[23] It operated at a range of power from 5 kW to 102 kW, with electrical current of up to 260 amperes. It generated 5.4 Newtons of thrust, "which is the highest level of thrust achieved by any plasma thruster to date."[23][26] A novelty in its design is that it incorporates three plasma channels, each a few centimeters deep, nested around one another in concentric rings.[24] The system is 227 kg (500 lb) and almost one meter in diameter.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Location Focus" Aerojet Rocketdyne
  2. ^ "Two engine rivals merge into Aerojet Rocketdyne". Spaceflight Now. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Roop, Lee (June 17, 2013). "Here's how Aerojet Rocketdyne might bring 5,000 new aerospace engineering jobs to Huntsville". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  4. ^ "History". Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. Archived from the original on 2016-08-07. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  5. ^ "Aerojet Rocketdyne 3D Prints An Entire Engine in Just Three Parts". 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  6. ^ "Aerojet Rocketdyne Motor Plays Key Role in Successful Blue Origin In-Flight Crew Escape Test". 6 October 2016. 
  7. ^ "AR1 Booster Engine". Aerojet Rocketdyne. Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  8. ^ Butler, Amy (2014-06-03). "Aerojet Rocketdyne Targets $25 Million Per Pair For AR-1 Engines". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2014-06-16. Aerojet Rocketdyne is targeting a cost of $20–25 million for each pair of new AR-1 engines as the company continues to lobby the government to fund an all-new, U.S.-sourced rocket propulsion system ... The effort to build a new, 500,000-lb. thrust liquid oxygen/kerosene propulsion system would take about four years from contract award and cost roughly $800 million to $1 billion. Such an engine is eyed for United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket as well as Orbital’s Antares 
  9. ^ Leone, Dan (2014-06-02). "Aerojet Rocketdyne Exec Pitches Long-brewing Concept as RD-180 Replacement". Space News. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  10. ^ a b Shalal, Andrea (25 February 2015). "Air Force seeks rethink of 2019 deadline for new U.S. rocket engine". Reuters. Retrieved 1 March 2015. Congress last year passed a law that requires the Air Force to develop a new propulsion system by 2019 to replace the RD-180 engine that powers one of two rockets used by the current monopoly launch provider, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. 
  11. ^ Covault, Craig (March 3, 2016). "Air Force Funds Both AR1 and BE-4 Rocket Engine Development to Replace ULA's Russian RD-180". AmericaSpace. Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  12. ^ Fleischauer, Eric (7 February 2015). "ULA's CEO talks challenges, engine plant plans for Decatur". Decatur Daily. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Mike Gruss (27 February 2015). "Timing of Russian Engine Ban Puts ULA, Air Force, in a Bind". Space News. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Clark, Woodrow; Elkin, Dimitri. "Politicians Determined to Kill the US-Russian Space Joint Venture". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  15. ^ "The Engines That Came In From the Cold". Retrieved April 14, 2017. 
  16. ^ @AerojetRdyne (April 13, 2015). "@AerojetRdyne is committed to delivering #RD180 replacement by 2019. #SpaceSymposium" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  17. ^ "Boeing, Lockheed Differ on Whether to Sell Rocket Joint Venture". Wall Street Journal. 10 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  18. ^ "Aerojet, ULA Nab Air Force Contracts to Replace Russian Rocket Engine".[dead link] Defense News, 29 February 2016.
  19. ^ Shalal, Andrea (March 1, 2017). "Aerojet on track to finish AR1 rocket engine work by 2019: CEO". Reuters. Retrieved April 14, 2017. Drake said the Air Force's $115 million contract for work on the AR1 prototype, along with options that could increase the government's investment to $501 million in coming years, moved the U.S. military a step closer to ending its reliance on Russian engines for national space launches. 
  20. ^ AR1 rocket R&D costs reach $228 million. August 2017
  21. ^ Roop, Lee (April 13, 2017). "Aerojet Rocketdyne bringing 800 rocket jobs to Alabama". Retrieved April 14, 2017. Aerojet Rocketdyne is bringing 800 new jobs to Huntsville and building a state-of-the art factory where those workers will produce its next-generation rocket engine. 
  22. ^ "Aerojet Rocketdyne Selected As Main Propulsion Provider for Boeing and DARPA Experimental Spaceplane". 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  23. ^ a b c d Pultarova, Tereza (13 October 2017). "Ion Thruster Prototype Breaks Records in Tests, Could Send Humans to Mars". Space. Retrieved 2017-10-13. 
  24. ^ a b Mcalpine, Katherine (19 February 2016). "Hall thruster a serious contender to get humans to Mars". PhysOrg. Retrieved 2017-10-13. 
  25. ^ PEPL Thrusters: X3University of Michigan. 2017.
  26. ^ Wall, Mike (26 April 2016). "Next-Gen Propulsion System Gets $67 Million from NASA". Space. Retrieved 2017-10-13. 

External links[edit]