Business

March 30, 2012

Rocketdyne being sold – Boeing is rumored as buyer

Tags: ,

United Technologies Corp CEO Louis Chenevert confirmed March 15 that UTC is selling its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne subsidiary.

The sale reflects UTC’s assessment that future rocket engine procurements are slowing down, in response to defense spending and NASA refocusing.

But perhaps more so because UTC needs to raise $16.5 billion to complete its purchase of Goodrich Corp and the $1.5 billion buyout of Rolls-Royce from the International Aero Engines joint venture. Also up for sale is Clipper Windpower and parts of Hamilton Sundstrand.

Rocketdyne has been through several owners and has always been praised as producing superior rocket engines. It was formed by North American Aviation right after World War II to adapt the German V-2 engine. It was spun off as a separate division in 1955. In 1967, North American and Rocketdyne merged with Rockwell, which later became part of Rockwell International.

In the 1950s and late 1960s, Rockwell designed and built rocket engines for the Thor and Atlas missiles. The Thor Delta engine continues as a space launcher, as does the Atlas. The Atlas rocket family has been an important orbital launcher for many decades, from the Project Mercury manned spacecraft to the Atlas-Agena and Atlas-Centaur. The Atlas V rocket engine is still in manufacture and use.

Rocketdyne became the major supplier for NASA, and built all the major engines used by the Saturn Apollo moon program. In 1965, Rocketdyne had 65,000 employees.

There followed a rapid downturn in military and civilian contracts, and downsizing. But in July, 1971 Rocketdyne beat out Pratt & Whitney and Aerojet General, and was awarded the NASA contract for the Space Shuttle main engine.

The engine that was developed is an engineering marvel. During the course of the Space Shuttle program, a total of 46 RS-25 engines were used (with one extra RS-25D being built but never used). During the 135 missions, for a total of 405 individual ‘engine missions,’ Rocketdyne reports a 99.95% reliability rate, with the only in-flight SSME failure occurring during Space Shuttle Challenger’s STS-51-F mission.

As Rockwell International was tied almost entirely to the space shuttle, the firm decided to sell off Rocketdyne, and in 1996 was sold to Boeing. Subsequently, on Aug. 2, 2005, Boeing sold Rocketdyne to Pratt & Whitney, subsidiary of UTC.

The current Rocketdyne sale has been speculated about for several months. There are reports that ATK and Gencorp [the owner of Aerojet General] have made inspection visits. Aerojet general is the only other major U.S. liquid fueled rocket manufacturer. However the current ‘washroom rumor’ in Canoga Park, Calif., is that Boeing is slated to re-buy Rocketdyne.

Boeing and Rocketdyne have been working closely together on the Boeing NASA Commercial Crew Development program.

On March 12, Rocketdyne announced it successfully completed a full-mission duration hot-fire test on a Launch Abort Engine for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft. The CST-100 spacecraft, designed to transport people to the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations, is in development under NASA’s CCDev program. The engine achieved full thrust of 40,000 pounds, and full duration. Under its contract with Boeing, Rocketdyne is leveraging proven Attitude Control Propulsion System thrusters from heritage programs, a low-cost Bantam engine design, and its storable propellant engineering capabilities.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Northrop, Navy celebrate legacy of EA-6B Prowler

Northrop Grumman photograph by Edgar Mills The U.S. Navy’s last operational EA-6B Prowler, designed and built by Northrop Grumman, lifts off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. in a ceremonial fly-away June 27 from its long time operational base. The Navy is retiring the Prowler after nearly 45 years of service.   The U.S....
 
 

Lockheed signs agreements for two full-flight simulators

Lockheed Martin Commercial Flight Training and Airbus have signed a frame contract enabling Airbus to expedite procurement of flight simulation devices for their customers, Airbus training centers and their affiliates worldwide. The frame contract emphasizes the shared intent to partner on future training programs, and combines Airbus’ and Lockheed Martin Commercial Flight Training’s expert...
 
 

Drone Aviation receives order for U.S. Army aerostat system enhancement

Drone Aviation Holding Corp., a developer of specialized lighter-than-air aerostats and tethered drones, announced June 24 that its wholly owned subsidiary, Drone Aviation Corp., has been awarded an order from U.S. Government prime contractor BAE Systems for parts and services related to enhancing and supporting two WASP aerostat systems owned and operated by the U.S....
 

 

Boeing names Muilenburg as chief executive officer

The Boeing board of directors has elected Dennis A. Muilenburg the company’s 10th chief executive, succeeding W. James (Jim) McNerney, Jr., who held the position for the past 10 years. Muilenburg, who has served as Boeing president and chief operating officer since 2013, becomes president and CEO July 1. McNerney, who joined Boeing’s board of...
 
 
boeing-thailand

Boeing, Thai Airways International celebrate 25th direct 777 delivery

  Boeing and Thai Airways International Public Company Limited celebrated the Thailand flag carrier’s 25th direct 777 delivery, a 777-300ER (Extended Range), from the Boeing delivery center in Everett, Wash.  “...
 
 

General Dynamics receives $219 million for U.S. Army’s WIN-T increment 2 systems

General Dynamics received the first full rate production order from the U.S. Army to build additional Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 systems.  The $219 million order includes the production of more than 300 vehicle-based network communication nodes along with related equipment and materials. WIN-T Increment 2 is the Army’s communications backbone providin...
 




One Comment


  1. Wolfman

    North American Aviation to Rockwell international to Boeing to UTC now back to Boeing ?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>