FARNBOROUGH, England, 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 Delta IV family of launch vehicles, and the RS-25 engine that will power NASA’s Space Launch System – America’s newest heavy lift launch vehicle in development, set to be the most powerful rocket in the world. 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.
The president and CEO of the company said setting up shop in Mississippi was a wise choice because of a strong work history with Stennis.
“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. This plan will establish Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility at NASA Stennis as the company’s Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test and solidify NASA’s Stennis Space Center as the nation’s premier rocket engine test facility. I look forward to continuing to work on this expansion with Chairman Cochran, Senator Wicker, Congressman Palazzo, and the rest of Mississippi’s Congressional delegation, as well as with Governor Bryant and his team.”
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.
“Mississippi’s long partnership with U.S. space agencies and the industry has led to advances in science, technology and national security. I am pleased that Aerojet Rocketdyne is expanding its activities at Stennis Space Center to support Defense Department space launch activities,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“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.”