The U.S. Air Force and Aerojet Rocketdyne are working to revise an agreement to support development of the company's AR1 rocket engine, as questions continue about the engine's long-term future.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s success in developing AR1, an engine designed to replace Russian-made RD-180 engines on United Launch Alliance rockets, hinges in part on its use of Mondaloy, a nickel-based superalloy invented in the 1990s by metallurgists Monica Jacinto.
As the National Security Space community implements resiliency and disaggregation, and as we take advantage of the rapid acceleration of technology, it appears we are moving toward smaller, shorter life, and more numerous satellite programs.
The chief executive of United Launch Alliance said Nov. 9 that he doesn’t feel any urgency to select a main engine for his company’s next-generation Vulcan rocket, despite an impending deadline for an Air Force launch competition.
Research and development (R&D) costs for the AR1 rocket from the program’s inception through June 30 have reached about $228 million, according to recent Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filings by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the engine's manufacturer.
An independent assessment of rocket engine development delivered to a House committee last week has concluded that Blue Origin remains well ahead of Aerojet Rocketdyne despite a recent testing setback.
Air Force leaders didn't definitively say if they'll cut off funding, but said they're more interested in launch services than engines.
The company completed a series of hot-fire tests on the preburner design for the AR1, keeping the program on schedule to be flight-ready by 2019.
A bipartisan group of 20 House members has asked the Defense Department not to alter the U.S. Air Force’s plans to fund development of new launch systems.
Lockheed says the technology has cut down on production time by two-thirds, while Aerojet is already testing a 3-D printed thrust chamber.
Aerojet Rocketdyne announced a second phase of the company’s consolidation plan April 10 that includes moving development of rocket engines from a decades-old California facility.
“Everybody agrees on the long term,” said William LaPlante, former Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition. But getting to those goals is the hard part.