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Lockheed Martin cancels merger with Aerojet Rocketdyne

Capitalism in space: Faced with a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opposing the merger, Lockheed Martin yesterday announced that it is terminating its effort to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Aerojet released a press release at the same time, insisting that the company remains viable and healthy, but there are doubts. While its rocket engines (its main business) remain technically reliable and well-built, they are relatively expensive. Moreover, the shift by rocket companies to build their own engines in the last decade has reduced its customer base significantly.

This loss of market is now compounded by a battle between two factions on the company’s board of directors.

While monopolies do not encourage competition, the merger with Lockheed Martin would have been mostly good for the rocket industry. It would have quickly given Lockheed Martin the skills to make rockets, and kept Aerojet Rocketdyne alive, albeit as part of another company. Now the latter faces extinction, and the former will need more time to develop the capabilities required in its recently-won NASA contract to launch a rocket from Mars to return samples.

And once again, the FTC lawsuit indicates that the Biden administration has decided to take a heavy-regulatory hand when it comes to business. The result however of this approach in this case has not produced more competition, but the likely bankruptcy of at least one company.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

10 comments

  • Gary

    Bob,

    Do you think this would impact Lockheed Martin’s ability to deliver on the recently announced Mars return rocket? Were they buying Aerojet Rocketdyne to get the expertise in engine building which they (Lockheed) lacked?

  • Gary: Read my post again. I clearly indicated that I do think it will have an impact.

  • wayne

    It’s been a long road for Aerojet-Rocketdyne.
    (the period 1990 to present feels a bit chaotic)
    https://www.zippia.com/aerojet-rocketdyne-careers-269/history/

  • Gary

    Bob,

    Pardon my inattention. Clearly, you did address. I should just read to the end!

    Thanks

  • Doubting Thomas

    Although not a big fan of LM. It seems grossly unfair to allow Northrop Grumman to gobble up ATK-Orbital but then prevent LM from acquiring AJ-R.

    As pointed out, while there are an emerging number of small companies building launch vehicles with their own internally developed engines, if AJ-R goes under this seriously hurts the defense side of rocket motor use, especially solids and some unique air breathing applications.

  • Col Beausabre

    “The result however of this approach in this case has not produced more competition, but the likely bankruptcy of at least one company.”

    Which of course is their intention. Don’t you get it? The capitalists who own AJR and LM are the enemy! We must destroy them and their wealth so all are equally poor and miserable, that is the Left’s program. That’s what they mean by equality and ‘”equiy”

  • Alton

    Or could it be as simple as family connections?

    Back in the 70s (college), I dated a daughter of the Northrup Family, did not know who she was until I met her parents one weekend. The family was tight with the DuPont Clan of Delaware….. (who also sent generation after generation to the same college)……..so could it be just that easy ????

    Interesting,. According to Spock ???

  • “We must destroy them and their “wealth so all are equally poor and miserable, that is the Left’s program.”

    Maybe time to light some candles, rather than curse the darkness.

  • Blair, the Climate Change Cult is working to make lighting candles the only option, where we used electricity before. They should support your suggestion … but I don’t think they will approve of your candles.

    But while we are lighting them, let us also emulate the “fluidity” of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, and “find a way” (many ways) to work around our hubris-soaked elites as their hubris leads them to be overtaken by events and fail … being ready to render them irrelevant to our lives when the opportunities to do so arise.

  • Dan L

    The discussions that I keep hearing about this merger/non-merger are centered around space flight rocketry. However, military defense rockets and motors are probably driving the FTC decision making. AJR makes all kinds of motors for defense applications, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, and ballistic missiles (sea and land based). Pretty much all defense contractors purchase their motors from AJR. Giving control of these products to a major defense contractor (Lockheed) will create a monopoly and drive up costs for the remaining buyers. In the end, the potential cost increases will be shouldered by the government and ultimately by the taxpayers.

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