Aerojet Rocketdyne eyes new U.S. rocket engine with work in Huntsville

Aerojet rocket engine
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PARIS, France —  On Friday, GenCorp announced the completion of the acquisition of Rocketdyne, which has now combined with Aerojet to create Aerojet Rocketdyne. On Monday, just two days later, Aerojet Rocketdyne will kick off the Paris Air Show with a press conference to talk about the new company’s plans for a new U.S. rocket engine and other projects.

Speaking Sunday at a reception hosted by the delegation from Huntsville, Ala., where Saturn V was designed and built, Aerojet Rocketdyne President Warren Boley talked about the company’s ambitions, including a desire to build the first new American rocket engine in 35 years.

“The completion of this merger means that the company (Aerojet) doubles in size and scope and sales,” Boley said. “It means that competitive and economic scale is achieved.”

By achieving economic scale, Boley means that the new ownership has plans to reduce overhead and IT costs at Rocketdyne and create new efficiencies by eliminating duplication of expenses between the two companies. Plus, the new, larger entity has a level of buying power that will help reduce the cost of purchases.

The impact of those savings is dramatic. So dramatic, in fact, that Boley said Aerojet Rocketdyne has entered into an advance agreement with the federal government to lower the price of its products and services by $100 million a year for 10 years.

Simple math tells you that’s a savings of $1 billion.

Boley’s ambition is to convince the United States government to reinvest that money in the construction of an American-made rocket engine.

“It’s been 35 years since America invested in new rocket engine technology,” Boley said. “That investment would be a win for the country, for future generations, for American sovereignty and for Aerojet Rocketdyne. We can return to a leadership position as Americans.”

For now, Boley said the U.S. depends on Russian engine technology for space flight.

If Aerojet Rocketdyne is successful in convincing congress, NASA and the American Air Force that it is time to build a new rocket engine, it could mean huge investment in the rocket city, Huntsville, Ala. Officials in Huntsville are hopeful the Rocketdyne acquisition will lead to company growth at its Alabama facilities.

“Alabama will continue to be a business and engineering center for us as we combine these companies,” Boley said. “The largest untapped pot for Alabama is a new American engine. It would take $1 billion. That’s 5,000 engineers. Just think about what that would mean for Huntsville.”

Beyond Aerojet Rocketdyne’s rocket engine ambitions, it will be talking about several other advancements at this week’s Paris Air Show including solar electric propulsion in space, and the next generation of missile technology for America, which is currently being engineered in partnership with several other leading aerospace and defense companies.