July 11, 2016 – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc., announced that assembly and testing of its AR1 advanced liquid rocket engine will take place at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. As a result, the company is expanding its Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test there. The AR1 is being developed to support the country’s mandate to eliminate U.S. reliance on the Russian RD-180 engine for national security space launches by 2019.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility at Stennis Space Center is already home for assembly and testing of the RS-68 engine that powers the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV family of launch vehicles, and the RS-25 engine that will power NASA’s Space Launch System. As part of the buildup for RS-25 assembly and testing, Aerojet Rocketdyne is locating its RS‑25 low pressure turbopump assembly to the company’s facility at Stennis Space Center.
“I am very pleased to announce our plans for expansion of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s presence in Mississippi,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “We have had a long history of partnering with Stennis to power the nation into space. Assembly and testing of the AR1 at NASA Stennis adds to that legacy.”
Currently, Aerojet Rocketdyne, located at Stennis since the Center’s inception, employs 130 people at its state-of-the-art facility. That number is expected to grow to more than 200 as development and production of the AR1 engine continues, and as the RS-25 engine continues testing and restarts production.
Members of the Mississippi delegation welcomed Aerojet Rocketdyne’s announcement.
“Stennis Space Center is home to some of the world’s most advanced rocket and engine technologies,” U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) said. “I am pleased that Aerojet Rocketdyne has chosen to expand its operations in Mississippi, which will strengthen our nation’s aerospace industry and bring more good-paying jobs to the Gulf Coast. Establishing this new Center of Excellence is vital to reducing our reliance on foreign-made rocket engines.”
In addition to the Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR-1) engine, ULA has a strategic partnership in place with Blue Origin, which is developing the BE-4 engine. The engines would be used on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is currently under development. The new rocket leverages the proven success of the Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles while introducing technologies and innovative features which will ensure a reliable and affordable space launch service along with engines developed and manufactured in the United States.