Author Topic: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne  (Read 10390 times)

Offline Rocket Surgeon

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The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« on: 10/06/2015 12:29 am »
Given that the discussion on Aerojet Rocketdyne's bid to buy ULA is over (and the bid itself), and that ULA just announced that Orbital ATK would be making all the solid booster rockets in the future, AND it is unknown whether or not the ACES will use RL-10's, it seems that AJR's buisness is drying up.

They still have deals with NASA and outstanding contracts with others, but what is the future of AJR? Are they likely to see their booster rocket business dry up entirely? I understand they have other products so are unlikely to go out of business completely, but is there a future for them in the big rocket booster world?

Thoughts/comments/concerns on what people think they will do and what they hope they would do? (always fun to speculate  :) though please keep it on the topic of AJR's future)

Sorry if this has already been discussed somewhere, only place I could find was on the 'bid to buy ULA' page.

Offline baldusi

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #1 on: 10/06/2015 01:10 am »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Offline Rocket Surgeon

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #2 on: 10/06/2015 01:47 am »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Wow... knew they had a diverse portfolio, didn't know it was that diverse.
Do you think if their large LRE business becomes unprofitable that they would sell it off? It'd be a bit ironic if in a few years ULA bought that part of ARJ's business.

Offline savuporo

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #3 on: 10/06/2015 06:21 am »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Wow... knew they had a diverse portfolio, didn't know it was that diverse.

https://www.rocket.com/aerospace
https://www.rocket.com/defense

Not sure if i'd call them 'world leaders in electic engines' though, if that includes XIPS thrusters then no.
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Offline baldusi

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #4 on: 10/06/2015 12:51 pm »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Wow... knew they had a diverse portfolio, didn't know it was that diverse.

https://www.rocket.com/aerospace
https://www.rocket.com/defense

Not sure if i'd call them 'world leaders in electic engines' though, if that includes XIPS thrusters then no.
I'm sorry, I meant Hall effect thrusters.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #5 on: 10/06/2015 05:54 pm »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Wow... knew they had a diverse portfolio, didn't know it was that diverse.
Do you think if their large LRE business becomes unprofitable that they would sell it off? It'd be a bit ironic if in a few years ULA bought that part of ARJ's business.

Why would ULA or anyone else buy an unprofitable business with no prospects for the future?  Businesses like that get shut down, not sold.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #6 on: 10/06/2015 06:00 pm »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Wow... knew they had a diverse portfolio, didn't know it was that diverse.

https://www.rocket.com/aerospace
https://www.rocket.com/defense

Not sure if i'd call them 'world leaders in electic engines' though, if that includes XIPS thrusters then no.
I'm sorry, I meant Hall effect thrusters.
Hm, one of the byproducts of SpaceX commsat mass production goals is to produce electric thrusters at vastly cheaper prices (not sure if these were Hall effect or not). So enough electric thrusters to fit on 4000 sats are a lot of thrusters. More than several times the current total production level globally. What will AJR do if SpaceX also sells these thrusters to other sat manufacturers or their small sat production line grows to include larger sats such that purchases of thrusters dries up from drop of other sat manufacturers build levels.

Offline Rocket Surgeon

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #7 on: 10/06/2015 10:40 pm »
They are rhe world leaders in electric engines, small thrusres and liquid apogee engines, for example. Plus solid motors for defense applications.

Wow... knew they had a diverse portfolio, didn't know it was that diverse.
Do you think if their large LRE business becomes unprofitable that they would sell it off? It'd be a bit ironic if in a few years ULA bought that part of ARJ's business.

Why would ULA or anyone else buy an unprofitable business with no prospects for the future?  Businesses like that get shut down, not sold.

My thought is that it may be unprofitable for not having anyone to sell to. ULA may like having the IP and/or ability to make it's own rocket engines, which it could get by buying that off AJR. Essentially do a SpaceX and bring engine production in house. Just because it's not profitable doesn't mean it's not valuable.

I also think this because I can see the relationship between ULA and Blue getting a bit rocky in the future if Blue's reuse plan ends up being cheaper. I know they said they are "in different businesses", but I can see them eye each others pies off in the future. Though that's starting to get a bit off topic.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #8 on: 10/07/2015 02:16 am »
Do you think if their large LRE business becomes unprofitable that they would sell it off? It'd be a bit ironic if in a few years ULA bought that part of ARJ's business.

Why would ULA or anyone else buy an unprofitable business with no prospects for the future?  Businesses like that get shut down, not sold.

My thought is that it may be unprofitable for not having anyone to sell to. ULA may like having the IP and/or ability to make it's own rocket engines, which it could get by buying that off AJR. Essentially do a SpaceX and bring engine production in house. Just because it's not profitable doesn't mean it's not valuable.

The thesis that in a few years the business will become unprofitable and AJR will sell because ULA has stopped buying.  But by that time, ULA will have converted over to non-AJR engines.  How are they going to go back?  Bring back Atlas V, even though it is more expensive and throw away all the money and effort that went into developing Vulcan?  No way.  Build yet another new launch vehicle after having just developed Vulcan, just so they can go back to AJR engines?  More madness.

Anyway, AJR's cost structures make its engines more expensive than the alternatives.  Having ULA own them doesn't change the cost structure.

I also think this because I can see the relationship between ULA and Blue getting a bit rocky in the future if Blue's reuse plan ends up being cheaper. I know they said they are "in different businesses", but I can see them eye each others pies off in the future. Though that's starting to get a bit off topic.

That might be bad for ULA, but buying AJR won't make it better.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #9 on: 12/08/2017 10:17 am »
This seems the best thread to note this:

Quote
Satellite fleet operator ABS said to select Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Simpson as new CEO
by Peter B. de Selding | Dec 8, 2017

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES, whose flamboyant founder, Tom Choi, resigned in October, has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Jim Simpson as its new chief executive, industry officials said. Simpson joined Aerojet in September 2015 as senior vice president for strategy and business development after a long career with Boeing [...]

https://www.spaceintelreport.com/satellite-fleet-operator-abs-said-select-aerojet-rocketdynes-simpson-new-ceo/

Online john smith 19

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #10 on: 12/08/2017 12:23 pm »
This seems the best thread to note this:

Quote
Satellite fleet operator ABS said to select Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Simpson as new CEO
by Peter B. de Selding | Dec 8, 2017

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES, whose flamboyant founder, Tom Choi, resigned in October, has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Jim Simpson as its new chief executive, industry officials said. Simpson joined Aerojet in September 2015 as senior vice president for strategy and business development after a long career with Boeing [...]

https://www.spaceintelreport.com/satellite-fleet-operator-abs-said-select-aerojet-rocketdynes-simpson-new-ceo/
Only lasted 2 years in post.

Is that common at senior executive level in aerospace? Seems kind of short to me.
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Offline Tywin

Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #11 on: 09/30/2018 03:39 pm »
What future have Aerojet right now?

https://spacenews.com/with-debt-down-and-cash-up-aerojet-rocketdyne-hunting-for-acquisitions/

https://spacenews.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-seeks-other-customers-for-ar1-engine/

In the future one of the launcher companies is possible will buy  Aerojet, for the patents and engines like X3?
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Offline yg1968

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #12 on: 09/30/2018 03:57 pm »
What future have Aerojet right now?

https://spacenews.com/with-debt-down-and-cash-up-aerojet-rocketdyne-hunting-for-acquisitions/

https://spacenews.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-seeks-other-customers-for-ar1-engine/

In the future one of the launcher companies is possible will buy  Aerojet, for the patents and engines like X3?

I was thinking the opposite: Aerojet could either acquire or create a LV company.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #13 on: 09/30/2018 04:33 pm »
What future have Aerojet right now?

https://spacenews.com/with-debt-down-and-cash-up-aerojet-rocketdyne-hunting-for-acquisitions/

https://spacenews.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-seeks-other-customers-for-ar1-engine/

In the future one of the launcher companies is possible will buy  Aerojet, for the patents and engines like X3?

I was thinking the opposite: Aerojet could either acquire or create a LV company.

It's REALLY difficult to become a launch services provider, and unless you have an approach to competing directly with SpaceX and Blue Origin, both of which are relying on reusability to lower costs, then it would be a waste of shareholder value.

Not everyone needs to be an apex predator to survive and thrive, so Aerojet Rocketdyne may do just fine carving out their own niche in the aerospace world.
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Offline Tywin

Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #14 on: 09/30/2018 04:46 pm »
Not everyone needs to be an apex predator to survive and thrive, so Aerojet Rocketdyne may do just fine carving out their own niche in the aerospace world.

But they can lost a very import part of that niche in the aerospace world...

First with Vulcan choice the engine BE-4...second, the present of OmegA, is not sure...and the future of SLS in 10 years is doubt...thats mean, they maybe lost all options in comercial launchers vehicule, and that is important gross part of her revenue...
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Online butters

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #15 on: 09/30/2018 05:12 pm »
What future have Aerojet right now?

https://spacenews.com/with-debt-down-and-cash-up-aerojet-rocketdyne-hunting-for-acquisitions/

https://spacenews.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-seeks-other-customers-for-ar1-engine/

In the future one of the launcher companies is possible will buy  Aerojet, for the patents and engines like X3?

I was thinking the opposite: Aerojet could either acquire or create a LV company.

I can see how AJR would assume that there's an opening for a Delta II class expendable launch vehicle in between dedicated smallsat launchers and the reusables. After all, this performance class has been important throughout most of the space age. But Stratolaunch is going after this niche with an air-launched system that will likely appeal to US government customers, could probably beat AJR's hypothetical system to market, and has a backer with plenty of money and no reason to sell. If we can honestly question how they can compete with Stratolaunch, that's not a very good position to be in, given that we're far from sure that the Stratolaunch business case will succeed either.

Offline joek

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #16 on: 09/30/2018 05:51 pm »
I can see how AJR would assume that there's an opening for a Delta II class expendable launch vehicle in between dedicated smallsat launchers and the reusables. ...

Might rephrase that as "there was an under-served market for a Delta II (medium) class launch vehicle" (expendable or not).  That was one of NASA's justifications for COTS not going with an incumbent LV provider, and subsequently the importance of ongoing support for COTS LV development.  In short, an affordable replacement for Delta II.  (That was explicitly stated in response to a GAO or NASA IG report.  Sorry cannot find reference at the moment.)

If AJR wants a piece of that market, they have two options: continue as an independent engine provider with ongoing dependence on a partner LV manufacturer and launch service provider; or build their own LV and launch service capabilities around their engine.  Both seem rather risky for AJR at this point.  As you suggest, the small to small-medium market is getting rather crowded; the medium to medium-heavy is likely to be crowded within the next few years.

Does not leave AJR much room to maneuver without significant commitment and investment--and an uphill battle against competitors who are well ahead in developing complete launch services.  I expect AJR will--as many legacy providers in similar situations in the past--will continue to defend and do well in their niche markets.  While that will be an ever-shrinking slice of the overall market, AJR could still be a profitable and successful company.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2018 06:01 pm by joek »

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #17 on: 09/30/2018 06:13 pm »
What future have Aerojet right now?

https://spacenews.com/with-debt-down-and-cash-up-aerojet-rocketdyne-hunting-for-acquisitions/

https://spacenews.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-seeks-other-customers-for-ar1-engine/

In the future one of the launcher companies is possible will buy  Aerojet, for the patents and engines like X3?

I was thinking the opposite: Aerojet could either acquire or create a LV company.

In June 2010, I was invited to brief the then CEO of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) about their long term strategy with respect to the launch vehicle market.  It was a short brief, a bit over a half dozen slides, most of which I can't show.  But this opening slide set the stage as far as I was concerned.  Naturally, they elected to ignore the advice to create a JV to develop a launch vehicle, with the result that they today live or die on SLS pork and RL10, which can't sustain AR.

Offline joek

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #18 on: 09/30/2018 06:21 pm »
Thanks for that HMXHMX.  Seems ominous for AJR's future--or at least as viewed from the perspective of 2010.  Question is whether AJR has done anything in the interim to help bolster their future prospects--does not appear that they have?

Online russianhalo117

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #19 on: 09/30/2018 07:50 pm »
What future have Aerojet right now?

https://spacenews.com/with-debt-down-and-cash-up-aerojet-rocketdyne-hunting-for-acquisitions/

https://spacenews.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-seeks-other-customers-for-ar1-engine/

In the future one of the launcher companies is possible will buy  Aerojet, for the patents and engines like X3?

I was thinking the opposite: Aerojet could either acquire or create a LV company.

In June 2010, I was invited to brief the then CEO of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) about their long term strategy with respect to the launch vehicle market.  It was a short brief, a bit over a half dozen slides, most of which I can't show.  But this opening slide set the stage as far as I was concerned.  Naturally, they elected to ignore the advice to create a JV to develop a launch vehicle, with the result that they today live or die on SLS pork and RL10, which can't sustain AR.
Well AR did try to aggressively take over ULA but Boeing and Lockheed Martin said no and resulted in AR losing its AJ60A contract to OATK and them not being selected for anything so far on Vulcan.

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