Aerojet Rocketdyne lobbies its rocket engines to Congress and ULA


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The competition heats up: Officials at Aerojet Rocketdyne yesterday lobbied hard for Congress and ULA to finance and buy their new AR-1 engine, designed to replace the Russian engines used in the Atlas 5 rocket.

More here, including the threat by those officials that the development of the engine could slip past 2019 if Congress doesn’t give the company more money.

The first comment at the bottom of the page of the first article above I think possibly outlines some of the reasons behind Aerojet Rocketdyne’s bid to buy ULA.

The development of the Blue Origin BE-4 is underway, and a launch vehicle like the proposed Vulcan would certainly be an asset to national security and commercial space development. But, as was stated, such a LNG/LO2 vehicle would need a different infrastructure to support it. ULA’s Atlas V is the most mature and reliable [launch vehicle] we have. The problem with it is a political one, because of its using the Russian RD-180 engine. From what has been published, plugging the BE-4 into an Atlas V is a non-starter; the BE-4 is meant for the Vulcan…if ULA can obtain funding on something more than a per-quarter schedule! Aerojet-Rocketdyne’s AR-1 would be a more logical choice to replace the RD-180, BUT…ULA won’t release the Interface Control Documents (ICD’s) to Aerojet-Rocketdyne. Hence, AR’s attempt to buy ULA.

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2 comments

  • maurice

    Corporate Welfare hidden by bald eagle-ing it. surprise surprise

  • Edward

    I suspect that this is less a case of corporate welfare — the rockets are necessary — than a case of disagreement over the design and vendor. Either blue Origin or Aerojet-Rocketdyne will be the vendor, the dispute is over which one. Both are offering appropriate value for the taxpayer dollar.

    The SLS is different. Although the vendors offer value to NASA for the taxpayer dollar, the lack of a purpose for the SLS demonstrates that the SLS project itself does not offer value; this *may* be a case of corporate welfare — making a never-used rocket in order to keep a few companies (which would still do well without SLS-related contracts) raking in the dough. We could end up with an expensive rocket that waits for a payload, or we could have a spacecraft that is unsuitable for the mission that may — or may not — be finally decided for it. Either way, if we are not ready to use the rocket when it is ready for use, then we could have spent the resources on more immediate needs, such as keeping Commercial Crew Transportation (CCtCap) on schedule for 2016 instead of the slip into 2017 or potentially into 2018. Indeed, we could save quite the pretty penny on Soyuz flights, which get more and more expensive with each new contract signed — signed due to funding-induced slips in CCtCap schedule.

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