Author Topic: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne  (Read 10405 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/

Offline 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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Online 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.

Online 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.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online 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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Offline 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 »

Online 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?

Offline 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.

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #20 on: 09/30/2018 09:09 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...

It's a huge leap to go from an engine manufacturer to a launch services provider, and they currently have no relevant experience in launch services that would give them an advantage over the incumbents and up-and-coming competitors.

However they do have lots of experience with high-tolerance, high-quality aerospace systems, and if they are flush with cash it would make sense to broaden their portfolio of products and services - like what many companies have done in order to isolate their businesses from the vagaries of any one market segment.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online brickmack

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #21 on: 09/30/2018 09:33 pm »
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.

AR won the upper stage engine contract for Vulcan. Also, GEM-63 was selected for Vulcan only days after that incident, it seems very unlikely that ULA would have been able to solicit that and OATK be able to respond in such a short time. More likely, Aerojet already expected to lose the Vulcan booster contract (and probably the Atlas booster contract as well, since there is a large performance and cost advantage to GEM-63 and it helps buy down risk for Vulcan), on top of their very shakey AR-1 bid and not-quite-certain RL10C-X bid, and panicked. If they'd won the Vulcan booster bid, they might not have attempted the buyout.

Online ncb1397

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #22 on: 09/30/2018 10:25 pm »
Vulcan - 2x RL-10
SLS - 4x RS-25, 1-4x RL-10
Mars 2020 - descent engines
LOP-G - AEPS
Psyche - NEXT-C
OmegA - 2x RL-10
CST-100 - Bantam
XS-1 - 1x AR-22'
New Shephard - CCE engine
development contracts - X3, AR-1

Aerojet Rocketdyne dying is just wishful thinking. They are currently profitable with revenue equivalent to SpaceX's projected 2019 revenue.

Offline JH

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #23 on: 09/30/2018 10:33 pm »
However they do have lots of experience with high-tolerance, high-quality aerospace systems, and if they are flush with cash it would make sense to broaden their portfolio of products and services - like what many companies have done in order to isolate their businesses from the vagaries of any one market segment.

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

Offline Lar

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #24 on: 09/30/2018 10:39 pm »
Anyone who wants to survive now needs to be ready to reduce costs and prices by an order of magnitude or more. That isn't accomplished by raiding pensions or cutting people either.... it takes good engineering.
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Offline Craftyatom

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #25 on: 10/01/2018 01:44 am »
Vulcan - 2x RL-10
SLS - 4x RS-25, 1-4x RL-10
Mars 2020 - descent engines
LOP-G - AEPS
Psyche - NEXT-C
OmegA - 2x RL-10
CST-100 - Bantam
XS-1 - 1x AR-22'
New Shephard - CCE engine
development contracts - X3, AR-1

Aerojet Rocketdyne dying is just wishful thinking. They are currently profitable with revenue equivalent to SpaceX's projected 2019 revenue.
I agree that they have quite the portfolio, and the company is in no danger of dying anytime soon.  What I'm personally more interested in are the long-term prospects.  The RL10 is about to have the BE-3U as competition, and if it can't hold its own and gets supplanted (which would admittedly take a lot of time and effort, especially on SLS), AJR could lose one of its big money-makers.  OmegA and AR-1 are up in the air at the moment, and while I'm confident XS-1 will be built, I'm not confident it's ever going to fly enough to require the purchase of another AR-22.

That leaves the NS abort motor, the Starliner engines, and various electric thrusters as solid sources of repeating revenue.  That's more than enough to keep a company afloat, but far less than they're used to.  Essentially, I think they either need to land some significant contracts in the next five years (certainly possible) or end up shrinking as a company.  An AJR that focuses on large, high-efficiency electric thrusters would be an excellent company, but that would also likely mean that the old liquid and solid propulsion divisions would wither, from what little I know.

Anyone who wants to survive now needs to be ready to reduce costs and prices by an order of magnitude or more. That isn't accomplished by raiding pensions or cutting people either.... it takes good engineering.
True on long timescales, but not so much on short ones.  AR-22 is exactly the kind of contract, imo, that epitomizes this: "We have the money, there's some proven technology lying around with a low lead time, and these guys are mainstays of the industry, so let's not bother with anything too new-fangled and difficult."  If Boeing had to draw up XS-1 again five years from now, however, I'm fairly certain the engine choice would be different.  That's why I'm more interested in what AJR is going to be like five years from now than, say, next year.
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Offline Lar

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #26 on: 10/01/2018 02:11 am »
Anyone who wants to survive now needs to be ready to reduce costs and prices by an order of magnitude or more. That isn't accomplished by raiding pensions or cutting people either.... it takes good engineering.
True on long timescales, but not so much on short ones.  AR-22 is exactly the kind of contract, imo, that epitomizes this: "We have the money, there's some proven technology lying around with a low lead time, and these guys are mainstays of the industry, so let's not bother with anything too new-fangled and difficult."  If Boeing had to draw up XS-1 again five years from now, however, I'm fairly certain the engine choice would be different.  That's why I'm more interested in what AJR is going to be like five years from now than, say, next year.
Sure. But I'm talking about not next quarter, not next year, but next decade. ULA is in a similar situation, they may well be fine for next quarter and next year, but they better have a seriously good plan.
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #27 on: 10/01/2018 04:20 am »
Vulcan - 2x RL-10
SLS - 4x RS-25, 1-4x RL-10
Mars 2020 - descent engines
LOP-G - AEPS
Psyche - NEXT-C
OmegA - 2x RL-10
CST-100 - Bantam
XS-1 - 1x AR-22'
New Shephard - CCE engine
development contracts - X3, AR-1

Aerojet Rocketdyne dying is just wishful thinking. They are currently profitable with revenue equivalent to SpaceX's projected 2019 revenue.
The RL-10  is one of the best upper stage engines out there if they can reduce it's cost it could continue to be a viable option for LV manufactures for some times.
They have some other interesting IP such nuclear thermal rockets which could be useful in deep space and the X-51 scramjet which could land some valuable military contracts.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2018 04:25 am by Patchouli »

Offline hkultala

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #28 on: 10/01/2018 05:33 am »
Vulcan - 2x RL-10
SLS - 4x RS-25, 1-4x RL-10
Mars 2020 - descent engines
LOP-G - AEPS
Psyche - NEXT-C
OmegA - 2x RL-10
CST-100 - Bantam
XS-1 - 1x AR-22'
New Shephard - CCE engine
development contracts - X3, AR-1

Aerojet Rocketdyne dying is just wishful thinking. They are currently profitable with revenue equivalent to SpaceX's projected 2019 revenue.
The RL-10  is one of the best upper stage engines out there if they can reduce it's cost it could continue to be a viable option for LV manufactures for some times.

It's still far from the "perfect upper stage engine".

In addition of it being overpriced it's also underpowered for many common tasks.

Delta IV and Atlas V performance is severely reduced by the single upper stage engine causing bad gravity losses, and those are rockets that stage quite late. For rockets which stage earlier it would be even worse.

But because it's so overpriced, in Delta IV & Atlas V, instead of putting more RL-10s to get better T/W, they are putting more SRBs to stage even later when the performance with one RL-10 is not enough.


What I don't understand is that why did they abort RL-60 development? That would have been much better upper stage engine for Delta IV and Atlas V also, would often have saved at least one SRB, and increased the maximum capasity of DIVH by many tonnes. Because they were expecting someone else to pay their development work and that someone else disappeared?

« Last Edit: 10/01/2018 05:44 am by hkultala »

Offline woods170

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #29 on: 10/01/2018 07:03 am »
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.

Emphasis mine.

That is incorrect. The Centaur V upper stage will be equipped with two RL-10 engines which, in case you had failed to recognize, are manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Once ACES gets phased into the Vulcan design the number of RL-10 engines will rise to four (4) per upper stage.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2018 07:09 am by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #30 on: 10/01/2018 07:13 am »
Vulcan - 2x RL-10
SLS - 4x RS-25, 1-4x RL-10
Mars 2020 - descent engines
LOP-G - AEPS
Psyche - NEXT-C
OmegA - 2x RL-10
CST-100 - Bantam
XS-1 - 1x AR-22'
New Shephard - CCE engine
development contracts - X3, AR-1

Aerojet Rocketdyne dying is just wishful thinking. They are currently profitable with revenue equivalent to SpaceX's projected 2019 revenue.
I agree that they have quite the portfolio, and the company is in no danger of dying anytime soon.  What I'm personally more interested in are the long-term prospects.  The RL10 is about to have the BE-3U as competition...

The first head-to-head competition between BE-3U and RL-10 was completed recently and was a clear win for RL-10 (Aerojet Rocketdyne): https://spacenews.com/orbital-atk-selects-aerojet-rocketdynes-rl10c-for-newly-christened-omega-rocket/
« Last Edit: 10/01/2018 07:14 am by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #31 on: 10/01/2018 07:17 am »
Anyone who wants to survive now needs to be ready to reduce costs and prices by an order of magnitude or more. That isn't accomplished by raiding pensions or cutting people either.... it takes good engineering.

Which is exactly what Aerojet Rocketdyne is doing right now: http://www.rocket.com/article/successful-testing-re-generatively-cooled-rl10-thrust-chamber-assembly-validates-3-d

They are taking an already well-engineered engine and are improving on it, by applying good engineering. Two main purposes for this are:
- Driving down cost of production
- Allow for design alterations to improve performance


Folks here should realize that this thread was started 3 years ago. Today, Aerojet Rocketdyne is no closer to going out of business than it was 3 years ago.

Additionally, I like to point out that Aerojet Rocketdyne is THE largest supplier worldwide of monopropellant thrusters for the comsat industry as well as having a large portfolio of RCS systems for both cubesats and smallsats.

Their in-space propulsion portfolio is so wide that IMO I don't see them leaving the stage in the next two decades.

One of the reasons being that losing AR-1 business to Blue's BE-4 doesn't hurt their business model one iota, as evidenced by this:

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

Finally: people are forgetting the fact that a very significant source of revenue for Aerojet Rocketdyne comes from their line of defense systems.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2018 07:39 am by woods170 »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #32 on: 10/01/2018 07:52 am »
I think seven AR-1s in a reusable first stage with four RL-10 engine upper stage would make a great launch vehicle. With development, the second stage could also be made reusable, perhaps adding a central sea level RL-10 for landing. However, that would require a change in philosophy in how AJR works, from being a government funded subcontractor to investing their own money in a commercial venture.
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Offline testguy

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #33 on: 10/01/2018 03:46 pm »
Please realize that Aerojet is so much more than liquid engines.  I spent many years working there and understand their product lines.  Just go to their web site and see the mix.  There are only two solid rocket manufactures left, NGIS and Aerojet.  The solid market is large and will remain that way so long as we have a DoD.  Aerojet is not going anywhere in the long term although it is true that their potential market in liquids has gotten smaller, primarily because of SpaceX and Blue.  A company flush with cash should be most concerned about being acquired, especially with a real estate assets that are worth a fortune.

This threads keeps only focusing on liquids.  Aerojet is reinventing itself and will be around a very long time so long as it is not acquired.  This is not the first time I have tried to make this point.  Sorry for repeating myself.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2018 08:54 pm by testguy »

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #34 on: 10/01/2018 04:01 pm »
Please realize the Aerojet is so much more than liquid engines.  I spent many years working there and understand their product lines.  Just go to their web site and see the mix.  There are only two solid rocket manufactures left.  Orbital - ATK and Aerojet.  The solid market is large and will remain that way so long as we have a DoD.  Aerojet is not going anywhere in the long term although it is true that their potential market in liquids has gotten smaller, primarily because of SpaceX and Blue.  A company flush with cash should be most concerned about being acquired, especially with a real estate assets that are worth a fortune.

This threads keeps only focusing on liquids.  Aerojet is reinventing itself and will be around a very long time so long as it is not acquired.  This is not the first time I have tried to make this point.  Sorry for repeating myself.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #35 on: 10/01/2018 05:37 pm »
losing AR-1 business to Blue's BE-4 doesn't hurt their business model one iota, as evidenced by this:

The rest of your post makes sense, but then you undercut your point by saying this.

Of course it hurts them.  Any business is going to be hurt when they lose a major contract.

They have enough other business that being hurt in this one area doesn't mean that they're in trouble.  That's not the same as not being hurt "one iota" by losing a major part of their potential future business.

Offline testguy

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #36 on: 10/01/2018 06:14 pm »
Please realize the Aerojet is so much more than liquid engines.  I spent many years working there and understand their product lines.  Just go to their web site and see the mix.  There are only two solid rocket manufactures left.  Orbital - ATK and Aerojet.  The solid market is large and will remain that way so long as we have a DoD.  Aerojet is not going anywhere in the long term although it is true that their potential market in liquids has gotten smaller, primarily because of SpaceX and Blue.  A company flush with cash should be most concerned about being acquired, especially with a real estate assets that are worth a fortune.

This threads keeps only focusing on liquids.  Aerojet is reinventing itself and will be around a very long time so long as it is not acquired.  This is not the first time I have tried to make this point.  Sorry for repeating myself.
I have family that used to work at the Camden facility.

I spent all my time in Virginia although made may trips to Camden as well as Sacramento.

Online Tywin

Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #37 on: 10/01/2018 08:16 pm »
One question, talking about her satetellite division of engines and that stuff...

The OneWeb constellation, I think so the mayor contractor is Airbus...and for constellation Starlink of SpaceX, is spacex   ::) ;D...somebody know if the aerojet, have some contracts for the engine o other parts of both constellations?
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Offline Lar

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #38 on: 10/01/2018 10:06 pm »
One question, talking about her satetellite division of engines and that stuff...

The OneWeb constellation, I think so the mayor contractor is Airbus...and for constellation Starlink of SpaceX, is spacex   ::) ;D...somebody know if the aerojet, have some contracts for the engine o other parts of both constellations?
I have no hard data but SpaceX using any AJ stuff is probably not the way to bet. Their bogie (per discussion in the Starlink thread) per bird is probably south of 500K total. AJR thrusters are not likely to fit that budget. Again, just guessing
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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #40 on: 10/05/2018 10:58 pm »
Solids can't be made reusable and be cost effective, thus the emphasis on liquids.  AJ should take the que from SpaceX and redesign their engines to take advantage of 3D printing and reducing the number of parts.  This could not only make their engines reusable, but lower the price.  I too want to know what happened to the RL-60?  It was supposed to be about the same size as RL-10 but twice the thrust.

They also do not have a metholox engine in design.  Why can't the RS-25 be modified to run metholox?  It should be in the range of the BE-4 or the Raptor.

Offline testguy

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #41 on: 10/06/2018 12:30 am »
Solids can't be made reusable and be cost effective, thus the emphasis on liquids.  AJ should take the que from SpaceX and redesign their engines to take advantage of 3D printing and reducing the number of parts.  This could not only make their engines reusable, but lower the price.  I too want to know what happened to the RL-60?  It was supposed to be about the same size as RL-10 but twice the thrust.

They also do not have a metholox engine in design.  Why can't the RS-25 be modified to run metholox?  It should be in the range of the BE-4 or the Raptor.

Do you really believe that 3D printing was not part of the AR-1 design?  I would think any one designing an engine today from scratch would use 3D printing to reduce cost, parts count, and reduced development and production schedule.

« Last Edit: 10/06/2018 04:34 pm by testguy »

Online brickmack

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #42 on: 10/06/2018 05:43 pm »
Solids can't be made reusable and be cost effective, thus the emphasis on liquids.  AJ should take the que from SpaceX and redesign their engines to take advantage of 3D printing and reducing the number of parts.  This could not only make their engines reusable, but lower the price.  I too want to know what happened to the RL-60?  It was supposed to be about the same size as RL-10 but twice the thrust.

They also do not have a metholox engine in design.  Why can't the RS-25 be modified to run metholox?  It should be in the range of the BE-4 or the Raptor.

All of Aerojets major future offerings include a lot of printed parts. RL10C-X has a printed combustion chamber and injector (~70% of the total labor in the current design according to some people that have worked there), AR-1 had a printed injector and much of its turbomachinery, RS-25E has some number of printed parts.

A methane RS-25 is a new engine (and fuel rich staged combustion with methane seems like a bad idea), and even RS-25E will cost >a billion dollars to develop (largely related to production restart). Its also a sustainer engine, which is a poor fit given most notable launchers in development now have 2 distinct non-overlapping stages. Booster/second stage-optimized RS-25 variants were proposed in the past (with expansion ratios of 35 or 150 instead of 70), but that further distances this hypothetical engine from the current design

Offline Asteroza

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #43 on: 10/11/2018 05:13 am »
Solids can't be made reusable and be cost effective, thus the emphasis on liquids.  AJ should take the que from SpaceX and redesign their engines to take advantage of 3D printing and reducing the number of parts.  This could not only make their engines reusable, but lower the price.  I too want to know what happened to the RL-60?  It was supposed to be about the same size as RL-10 but twice the thrust.

They also do not have a metholox engine in design.  Why can't the RS-25 be modified to run metholox?  It should be in the range of the BE-4 or the Raptor.

All of Aerojets major future offerings include a lot of printed parts. RL10C-X has a printed combustion chamber and injector (~70% of the total labor in the current design according to some people that have worked there), AR-1 had a printed injector and much of its turbomachinery, RS-25E has some number of printed parts.

A methane RS-25 is a new engine (and fuel rich staged combustion with methane seems like a bad idea), and even RS-25E will cost >a billion dollars to develop (largely related to production restart). Its also a sustainer engine, which is a poor fit given most notable launchers in development now have 2 distinct non-overlapping stages. Booster/second stage-optimized RS-25 variants were proposed in the past (with expansion ratios of 35 or 150 instead of 70), but that further distances this hypothetical engine from the current design

I dunno, we probably won't see a big commit to 3D printing from AJ until they 3D print a RL-10 nozzle they can sell. They still weld the cooling tubes entirely by hand, right?

Offline woods170

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #44 on: 10/11/2018 06:56 am »
losing AR-1 business to Blue's BE-4 doesn't hurt their business model one iota, as evidenced by this:

The rest of your post makes sense, but then you undercut your point by saying this.

Of course it hurts them.  Any business is going to be hurt when they lose a major contract.

They have enough other business that being hurt in this one area doesn't mean that they're in trouble.  That's not the same as not being hurt "one iota" by losing a major part of their potential future business.


Emphasis mine.

That's incorrect IMO. You can't lose a major contract if you never stood a chance of winning it.
Which is exactly what happened here.
Aerojet recognized this late last year (yes, that is right: a year ago they already were aware of what was coming) and quietly re-negotiated their DoD development contract. Only 1/6 of the amount of money spent on AR-1 development, under the OTA between USAF and Aerojet, was invested by Aerojet itself. The rest is government money.
Aerojet is not going belly-up from losing a mere $60 million of its own money on a contract.

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

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #45 on: 10/11/2018 01:50 pm »
Solids can't be made reusable and be cost effective, thus the emphasis on liquids.  AJ should take the que from SpaceX and redesign their engines to take advantage of 3D printing and reducing the number of parts.  This could not only make their engines reusable, but lower the price.  I too want to know what happened to the RL-60?  It was supposed to be about the same size as RL-10 but twice the thrust.

They also do not have a metholox engine in design.  Why can't the RS-25 be modified to run metholox?  It should be in the range of the BE-4 or the Raptor.

Do you really believe that 3D printing was not part of the AR-1 design?  I would think any one designing an engine today from scratch would use 3D printing to reduce cost, parts count, and reduced development and production schedule.



http://rocket.com/ar1-booster-engine

Says it right here on the AR1 page.

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #46 on: 10/11/2018 02:40 pm »
I dunno, we probably won't see a big commit to 3D printing from AJ until they 3D print a RL-10 nozzle they can sell. They still weld the cooling tubes entirely by hand, right?

Thats what RL10C-5/C-X is.

Most of the RL10 hardware currently being sold is stuff built a decade+ ago anyway, under the bulk purchase for Delta IV when Boeing had much higher expectations for its flight rate. Are they still making new nozzles at all (hand-welded or otherwise)?

Offline testguy

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #47 on: 10/11/2018 03:15 pm »
losing AR-1 business to Blue's BE-4 doesn't hurt their business model one iota, as evidenced by this:

The rest of your post makes sense, but then you undercut your point by saying this.

Of course it hurts them.  Any business is going to be hurt when they lose a major contract.

They have enough other business that being hurt in this one area doesn't mean that they're in trouble.  That's not the same as not being hurt "one iota" by losing a major part of their potential future business.


Emphasis mine.

That's incorrect IMO. You can't lose a major contract if you never stood a chance of winning it.
Which is exactly what happened here.
Aerojet recognized this late last year (yes, that is right: a year ago they already were aware of what was coming) and quietly re-negotiated their DoD development contract. Only 1/6 of the amount of money spent on AR-1 development, under the OTA between USAF and Aerojet, was invested by Aerojet itself. The rest is government money.
Aerojet is not going belly-up from losing a mere $60 million of its own money on a contract.

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

I agree with you up to a point.  When Aerojet began developing AR-1, BE-4 had a ways to go before proving itself.  At the time it was not a sure thing that Aerojet would not win.  More important 60 million, if not more, is a lot for Aerojet to invest.  That is IR&D that was not invested in other technologies.  The IR&D not invested on other technologies will reduce their position on other future contracts.  AR-1 was/is to be produced in Huntsville, Ala, rather than WPB or LA, so thee may have been sunk employee relocation costs that will not be recovered.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #48 on: 10/11/2018 08:09 pm »
Solids can't be made reusable and be cost effective, thus the emphasis on liquids.  AJ should take the que from SpaceX and redesign their engines to take advantage of 3D printing and reducing the number of parts.  This could not only make their engines reusable, but lower the price.  I too want to know what happened to the RL-60?  It was supposed to be about the same size as RL-10 but twice the thrust.

They also do not have a metholox engine in design.  Why can't the RS-25 be modified to run metholox?  It should be in the range of the BE-4 or the Raptor.

All of Aerojets major future offerings include a lot of printed parts. RL10C-X has a printed combustion chamber and injector (~70% of the total labor in the current design according to some people that have worked there), AR-1 had a printed injector and much of its turbomachinery, RS-25E has some number of printed parts.

A methane RS-25 is a new engine (and fuel rich staged combustion with methane seems like a bad idea), and even RS-25E will cost >a billion dollars to develop (largely related to production restart). Its also a sustainer engine, which is a poor fit given most notable launchers in development now have 2 distinct non-overlapping stages. Booster/second stage-optimized RS-25 variants were proposed in the past (with expansion ratios of 35 or 150 instead of 70), but that further distances this hypothetical engine from the current design

The AR-1 would be easier to turn into a methane engine than the RS-25 if they decided to go that route.

Offline woods170

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Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #49 on: 10/12/2018 11:20 am »
losing AR-1 business to Blue's BE-4 doesn't hurt their business model one iota, as evidenced by this:

The rest of your post makes sense, but then you undercut your point by saying this.

Of course it hurts them.  Any business is going to be hurt when they lose a major contract.

They have enough other business that being hurt in this one area doesn't mean that they're in trouble.  That's not the same as not being hurt "one iota" by losing a major part of their potential future business.


Emphasis mine.

That's incorrect IMO. You can't lose a major contract if you never stood a chance of winning it.
Which is exactly what happened here.
Aerojet recognized this late last year (yes, that is right: a year ago they already were aware of what was coming) and quietly re-negotiated their DoD development contract. Only 1/6 of the amount of money spent on AR-1 development, under the OTA between USAF and Aerojet, was invested by Aerojet itself. The rest is government money.
Aerojet is not going belly-up from losing a mere $60 million of its own money on a contract.

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

I agree with you up to a point.  When Aerojet began developing AR-1, BE-4 had a ways to go before proving itself.  At the time it was not a sure thing that Aerojet would not win.  More important 60 million, if not more, is a lot for Aerojet to invest.  That is IR&D that was not invested in other technologies.  The IR&D not invested on other technologies will reduce their position on other future contracts.  AR-1 was/is to be produced in Huntsville, Ala, rather than WPB or LA, so thee may have been sunk employee relocation costs that will not be recovered.

When AR-1 development began, Blue had already a solid two years of development work for BE-4 under its belt. It quite literally was further along. That two-year headstart never became any smaller in the years that followed.
Betting on BE-4 was the smart thing to do by ULA. Hence why they did.
The option to have a second engine development (AR-1) was only there to appease ULA's political pay masters.

The reason ULA opted for BE-4 was that ULA was seriously impressed with the previous engine development cycles from Blue Origin. Without any substantial government contribution Blue had developed, in a relatively short timespan, 3 types of rocket engines. And that for a company that had ZERO prior experience in rocket engine development.
What was even more impressive to ULA is that each of those engines was a massive step forward in terms of thrust, ISP and technology.

Blue started out with a very simple pressure-fed mono-propellant engine generating just 2,200 pounds of thrust (BE-1).
Their next engine, BE-2, was a pump-fed bi-propellant engine, generating 31,000 pounds of thrust. It was thus well over 14 times more powerful than BE-1.
BE-3 represents Blue's coming-of-age as a rocket engine builder: full cryogenic engine (LH2/LOX), 3.5 times more powerful than BE-2 and having a massive throttle range (from as low as 25,000 pounds of thrust to 110,000 pounds of thrust.
So, when ULA asked Blue to build an engine using a new propellant combination (Methane/LOX) and being 5 times as powerful as BE-3, ULA knew that Blue could meet the challenge.

All this is why AR-1 never stood a chance of becoming the primary propulsion system for Vulcan.
Add to that the fact that Aerojet relied mostly on government funding for AR-1, whereas BE-4 is fully privately funded, and one can understand easily why AR-1 was dead in the water from day 1 forward.
« Last Edit: 10/12/2018 11:39 am by woods170 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #50 on: 10/12/2018 06:59 pm »


I dunno, we probably won't see a big commit to 3D printing from AJ until they 3D print a RL-10 nozzle they can sell. They still weld the cooling tubes entirely by hand, right?

Thats what RL10C-5/C-X is.

Most of the RL10 hardware currently being sold is stuff built a decade+ ago anyway, under the bulk purchase for Delta IV when Boeing had much higher expectations for its flight rate. Are they still making new nozzles at all (hand-welded or otherwise)?

ARJ have been investing heavily in 3D printing. AR1 was designed from scratch to use 3D printing as much as possible.

The RL10C-X  has been totally redesigned to stage 90-95% of it is 3D printed. Expect a dramatic reduction in build cost and lead time. Customers will definitely benfit from shorter lead time and good part build cost savings will be passed on in lower purchase price.

ARJ make lot of small engines and thrusters used in satellites, these have also benefitted from 3D printing.




Online Tywin

Re: The Future of Aerojet Rocketdyne
« Reply #51 on: 02/11/2019 09:56 pm »
Aerojet make a important restructuration in her office and facilities space and cost reductions:

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Aerojet_Rocketdynes_Affordability_and_Efficiency_Drive_Achieves_Major_Milestones_999.html

Quote
"With the successful progress of the CIP, we are well on our way to achieving annual cost reductions of approximately $230 million by the year 2021. The culture of our company has undergone a paradigm shift - this is now how we do business. We are laser-focused on consolidating to create efficiencies where we can, and investing in the technologies needed to sustain our profitable growth and innovation in this industry."
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