Author Topic: Aerojet Rocketdyne's proposed RD-180 replacement - the AR-1 (aka AJ-1E6)  (Read 100821 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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LOS ANGELES, May 08, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) for AR1, a 500,000 lbf thrust-class, liquid-fueled rocket engine.

The milestone keeps the AR1 on track for certification for flight in 2019 as a replacement for the Russian RD-180 engine that is used today to launch most U.S. national security payloads. The U.S. Congress has mandated that the Defense Department discontinue using Russian engines to launch its satellites into space. AR1 is the lowest-risk, lowest-cost-to-the-taxpayer and fastest path to eliminating U.S. dependence on foreign suppliers.

“This important milestone keeps AR1 squarely on track for flight readiness in 2019,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “AR1 ends foreign dependence, fits on existing launch vehicles with the least amount of changes to the system or on new launch vehicles in development, and is compatible with current ground and launch infrastructure.”

The CDR not only focused on the AR1’s detailed design to ensure that it meets the rigorous performance requirements of a booster engine prior to full-scale manufacturing, it also validated the production processes that will be used to produce the flight engines. The comprehensive review was attended by government and industry experts who are independent of the program. These experts viewed and assessed the program’s readiness and confirmed the technical effort is on track.

“Completing the CDR is a significant milestone for the AR1 program. It means that we have finalized our design and confirmed that it meets the diverse set of operational requirements necessary for national security missions,” added Drake. “Leading up to CDR, we manufactured major components at subscale and full-scale dimensions and completed hundreds of tests to confirm that we are ready to build our first engine for qualification and certification.”

The system-level CDR is the culmination of 22 incremental CDRs and critical subsystem testing, such as full-scale performance testing of the preburner and staged combustion system. Additionally, more than 200 engine system-level design requirements have now been established and verifications are in place.

“Using our proven development methodology that has been honed during decades of designing booster engines such as the RS-68 and RS-25, Aerojet Rocketdyne will have an engine certified and ready for production in 2019,” said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Advanced Space and Launch Programs and Strategy. “Aerojet Rocketdyne understands the exacting engine development and launch vehicle integration processes required for National Security Space missions. We have the resources and capabilities in-place to support national security launches using the AR1 as the booster engine starting in 2020.”

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.

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/05/08/980271/0/en/Aerojet-Rocketdyne-Completes-Critical-Design-Review-for-AR1-Engine.html
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 06:02 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline rockets4life97

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So, how far does this put Aerojet Rocketdyne behind Blue Origin?

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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So, how far does this put Aerojet Rocketdyne behind Blue Origin?

Blue Origin has their first BE-4 built and on the test stand. Test fires due to start anytime from now (4 weeks ago Blue said 3 to 8 weeks from testing).

So the answer depends on both how long it takes to build an AR-1 and the relative lengths of the BE-4 and AR-1 test programmes. My guess, between 6 months and a year?

Online Kryten

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Offline john smith 19

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So, how far does this put Aerojet Rocketdyne behind Blue Origin?
BE-4 CDR was in October 2015; https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/659884423425318912?lang=en

Well on that basis about 17 months.

Of course now the CDR is complete AJR could throw staff at it to accelerate the mfg process.
« Last Edit: 05/09/2017 10:51 AM by john smith 19 »
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Offline Chasm

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Nice to see the CDR, there is a method to the news releases.

Some thoughts before whatever comes out of the United Launch Alliance Joint-Venture Agreement expiration makes them obsolete.

AR can and will play the heritage card on the RL10 and they will play it hard.
And yes, Jeff Bezos would be stark raving mad to just buy AR.

A quick look says AJRD has ~$1.6B stock value. What current products beyond RS-25, RS-68 & RL10 do they have? With just those three the value seems mighty high.

Looking through their site it is hard to distinguish active from historical products...
I see MMRGT, all kinds of RCS and maneuvering engines (from cube sat to normal sats to Orion, chemical and electric), alloys & 3D printing, defense industry - Looking through wiki there are/were heaps of contaminated sites too. (Another reason not to buy them outright.)

My take on the political angle was more on keeping all those lovely shelved and 98% developed engines like the J-2X viable just a bit longer until the next round of Rocket Lego starts in DC. ;) Some things from their portfolio like MMRGT will be kept alive no matter what.



It will depends on how this plays out. Do they sell off specific technologies piecemeal? Do they try to sell of whole branches? Will one day the stock price just drop through the floor?
Does someone want a technology they have bad enough to just spend the money?


Blue has money. Are there some choice pieces of of liquid or alloy tech they still need? RCS and maneuvering engines of all sizes should be interesting for their future projects, but not at the price of buying all of the rest too. Another angel is that at the point where AR folds Blue should be the remaining big company selling domestic engines to others on the US market. I would not rule out politicians trying their hand at another ULA. - Or perhaps Jeff really wants a full set of his Saturn engine collection.  ;D (Buying specific things because he can, not because he or Blue needs to.) I really doubt that they want to do technology life support.

I don't know about the beef with Orbital ATK. ATK already has all kinds of assorted space, rocket, missile and defense technology. Does AR still have some solid fuel tech that has to be kept viable? Orbital ATK may or may not be interested large liquids for their own use even if they don't fit Antares. The sat and cube sat thrusters should be more there style. - If there is actually something they don't already have. Looking at their other low volume products and concepts I'd suppose they could be convinced to deliver additional technology life support, as long as politics makes it worth their while.

I don't see ULA buying RL10. Even if they get forced into it for political reasons they can just pass on the cost increase and offer another engine to customers.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Let's say SLS is terminated. ULA chooses BE-4. But there is investment money out there wanting a bigger rocket than Vulcan or even NG and FH. This investment new startup buys up the surplussed SLS manufacturing tooling. They then design a LOX/RP1 first stage at 8.4m diameter with 9 AR-1 engines and then purcahse tech and some hardware from ULA to then also build a 8.4m diameter (non-stainless steel) US ACES like stage using a pair of BE-3's. Such that the intent of the design is to reach a approximate BEO capability to the SLS 1B. It's LEO capability would be slightly less than a SLS 1B. But the major part of the design is that it is for cargo, large 10's of metric tons of BEO payload for cis-Lunar and Planetary orbits. The use of the ACES hardware set for long duration coast allows for use of the US as a full function tug that can place the large payloads into their final orbit.

Lets say they could build and launch such a vehicle for $200-300M twice or maybe 3 times a year. And that they could recover the first stage (VTVL).

Would there be any customers?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Let's say SLS is terminated. ULA chooses BE-4. But there is investment money out there wanting a bigger rocket than Vulcan or even NG and FH. This investment new startup buys up the surplussed SLS manufacturing tooling. They then design a LOX/RP1 first stage at 8.4m diameter with 9 AR-1 engines and then purcahse tech and some hardware from ULA to then also build a 8.4m diameter (non-stainless steel) US ACES like stage using a pair of BE-3's. Such that the intent of the design is to reach a approximate BEO capability to the SLS 1B. It's LEO capability would be slightly less than a SLS 1B. But the major part of the design is that it is for cargo, large 10's of metric tons of BEO payload for cis-Lunar and Planetary orbits. The use of the ACES hardware set for long duration coast allows for use of the US as a full function tug that can place the large payloads into their final orbit.

Lets say they could build and launch such a vehicle for $200-300M twice or maybe 3 times a year. And that they could recover the first stage (VTVL).

Would there be any customers?

No.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Let's say SLS is terminated. ULA chooses BE-4. But there is investment money out there wanting a bigger rocket than Vulcan or even NG and FH. This investment new startup buys up the surplussed SLS manufacturing tooling. They then design a LOX/RP1 first stage at 8.4m diameter with 9 AR-1 engines and then purcahse tech and some hardware from ULA to then also build a 8.4m diameter (non-stainless steel) US ACES like stage using a pair of BE-3's. Such that the intent of the design is to reach a approximate BEO capability to the SLS 1B. It's LEO capability would be slightly less than a SLS 1B. But the major part of the design is that it is for cargo, large 10's of metric tons of BEO payload for cis-Lunar and Planetary orbits. The use of the ACES hardware set for long duration coast allows for use of the US as a full function tug that can place the large payloads into their final orbit.

Lets say they could build and launch such a vehicle for $200-300M twice or maybe 3 times a year. And that they could recover the first stage (VTVL).

Would there be any customers?

No.
So your implication is that unless the AR-1 is chosen by ULA for use on national security type payloads, that no one else would want it because of it's cost even if it was able to be used 5-10 times?

That this is because all other engines currently being developed are for even higher reuse numbers and have lower unit costs?

That the AR-1 is an obsolete engine before it is even developed?

Offline FishInferno

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Let's say SLS is terminated. ULA chooses BE-4. But there is investment money out there wanting a bigger rocket than Vulcan or even NG and FH. This investment new startup buys up the surplussed SLS manufacturing tooling. They then design a LOX/RP1 first stage at 8.4m diameter with 9 AR-1 engines and then purcahse tech and some hardware from ULA to then also build a 8.4m diameter (non-stainless steel) US ACES like stage using a pair of BE-3's. Such that the intent of the design is to reach a approximate BEO capability to the SLS 1B. It's LEO capability would be slightly less than a SLS 1B. But the major part of the design is that it is for cargo, large 10's of metric tons of BEO payload for cis-Lunar and Planetary orbits. The use of the ACES hardware set for long duration coast allows for use of the US as a full function tug that can place the large payloads into their final orbit.

Lets say they could build and launch such a vehicle for $200-300M twice or maybe 3 times a year. And that they could recover the first stage (VTVL).

Would there be any customers?

No.
So your implication is that unless the AR-1 is chosen by ULA for use on national security type payloads, that no one else would want it because of it's cost even if it was able to be used 5-10 times?

That this is because all other engines currently being developed are for even higher reuse numbers and have lower unit costs?

That the AR-1 is an obsolete engine before it is even developed?

AR-1 is a perfectly fine engine in and of itself, but just having the engine is not a good reason to build a new launcher if there is no need.
Comparing SpaceX and SLS is like comparing paying people to plant fruit trees with merely digging holes and filling them.  - Robotbeat

Offline AncientU

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...

AR-1 is a perfectly fine engine1 in and of itself, but just having the engine2 is not a good reason to build a new launcher if there is no need.

1. It isn't.
2. We don't.

Careful of present tense...
AR-1 has been a fine engine 'design' for over a decade...

The OP got it right...'proposed RD-180 replacement'
« Last Edit: 05/21/2017 07:28 PM by AncientU »
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Offline edkyle99

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So, how far does this put Aerojet Rocketdyne behind Blue Origin?
BE-4 CDR was in October 2015; https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/659884423425318912?lang=en

Well on that basis about 17 months.

Of course now the CDR is complete AJR could throw staff at it to accelerate the mfg process.
Rocketdyne trailed Pratt & Whitney by many months during the SSME competition and were all but written off by the aerospace media of the time.  I'm not saying that history will repeat itself, but history is worth remembering.

As for me, I see a world where launch service companies own their own primary propulsion.  SpaceX and Blue Origin started the trend.  Orbital Sciences merged ATK to continue the trend.  That leaves PWR and ULA, hung out to dry unless ...

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Offline savuporo

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..A quick look says AJRD has ~$1.6B stock value. What current products beyond RS-25, RS-68 & RL10 do they have? With just those three the value seems mighty high.
Only a good chunk of solid rockets, missiles and boosters made in US, and pretty much majority of in-space propulsion elements made in US.


Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Let's say SLS is terminated. ULA chooses BE-4. But there is investment money out there wanting a bigger rocket than Vulcan or even NG and FH. This investment new startup buys up the surplussed SLS manufacturing tooling. They then design a LOX/RP1 first stage at 8.4m diameter with 9 AR-1 engines and then purcahse tech and some hardware from ULA to then also build a 8.4m diameter (non-stainless steel) US ACES like stage using a pair of BE-3's. Such that the intent of the design is to reach a approximate BEO capability to the SLS 1B. It's LEO capability would be slightly less than a SLS 1B. But the major part of the design is that it is for cargo, large 10's of metric tons of BEO payload for cis-Lunar and Planetary orbits. The use of the ACES hardware set for long duration coast allows for use of the US as a full function tug that can place the large payloads into their final orbit.

Lets say they could build and launch such a vehicle for $200-300M twice or maybe 3 times a year. And that they could recover the first stage (VTVL).

Would there be any customers?

No.
So your implication is that unless the AR-1 is chosen by ULA for use on national security type payloads, that no one else would want it because of it's cost even if it was able to be used 5-10 times?

That this is because all other engines currently being developed are for even higher reuse numbers and have lower unit costs?

That the AR-1 is an obsolete engine before it is even developed?

The question you asked is would there be any customers for a particular launch vehicle.  I said no to that.  It's not an answer specifically about an engine.  It's an answer about a partuclar launch vehicle you proposed.

You proposed a launch vehicle to launch large payloads beyond Earth orbit.  There aren't any such payloads today.  There's no evidence there will be such payloads in the foreseeable future.  If there were a market for such launches, ULA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin would likely be building vehicles to address that market.

Offline woods170

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So, how far does this put Aerojet Rocketdyne behind Blue Origin?
BE-4 CDR was in October 2015; https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/659884423425318912?lang=en

Well on that basis about 17 months.

Of course now the CDR is complete AJR could throw staff at it to accelerate the mfg process.
Rocketdyne trailed Pratt & Whitney by many months during the SSME competition and were all but written off by the aerospace media of the time.  I'm not saying that history will repeat itself, but history is worth remembering.
Indeed. Just make sure you remember all of it. Rocketdyne may have been behind many months but they ultimately won because Rocketdyne, unlike Pratt & Whitney, spent its own money to build a full-scale test version of the SSME. This prototype SSME thrust chamber (partial engine) was fired successfully at the company’s Nevada Field Laboratory near Reno during late 1970 and early 1971. As noted by Frank Stewart, a former deputy in NASA's Engine Project Office, this "probably gave them the leg up" toward award of the later engine manufacturing contract.

What is different this time is that the party leading the race (Blue Origin) is actually the one spending it's own money to build a prototype engine (multiple ones in fact) while the trailing party (Aerojet) didn't start development until the government gave them money to do so. That is in fact why Aerojet is behind.
The only reason why Aerojet could potentially still win this race is Blue Origin running into serious trouble using methane as the fuel in stead of using "known-and-understood" RP-1.

But frankly I reckon a 17-month lead will be enough for Blue Origin to iron-out the Methane unknowns and still have a comfortable lead on Aerojet.
« Last Edit: 05/22/2017 12:10 PM by woods170 »

Offline edkyle99

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What is different this time is that the party leading the race (Blue Origin) is actually the one spending it's own money to build a prototype engine (multiple ones in fact) while the trailing party (Aerojet) didn't start development until the government gave them money to do so. That is in fact why Aerojet is behind.
Both companies (Aerojet Rocketdyne and Blue Origin) are getting some USAF funding.  Clearly, Aerojet Rocketdyne started later than Blue Origin.
https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/03/07/ulas-candidates-to-replace-rd-180-engine-win-air-force-funding/

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Offline TrevorMonty

Blue as access to unlimited funding if required to overcome any technical hurdle. Aerojet would be on lot tighter budget.

Offline woods170

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What is different this time is that the party leading the race (Blue Origin) is actually the one spending it's own money to build a prototype engine (multiple ones in fact) while the trailing party (Aerojet) didn't start development until the government gave them money to do so. That is in fact why Aerojet is behind.
Both companies (Aerojet Rocketdyne and Blue Origin) are getting some USAF funding.  Clearly, Aerojet Rocketdyne started later than Blue Origin.
https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/03/07/ulas-candidates-to-replace-rd-180-engine-win-air-force-funding/

 - Ed Kyle
Correct, but Blue did not receive government funding until they were well into developing the engine with their own money. That's why they are in the lead and that is why, IMO, they will stay in the lead.

Offline Patchouli

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Looking at some of the recent set backs Blue has had I wonder if the AR-1 could end up being the dark horse in the race to find a replacement for Russian engines.

« Last Edit: 06/07/2017 05:51 PM by Patchouli »

Offline woods170

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Looking at some of the recent set backs Blue has had I wonder if the AR-1 could end up being the dark horse in the race to find a replacement for Russian engines.


Unlikely. Blue is well ahead of AR-1. Setbacks during testing are normal. AR-1 will have those too.

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