Rocketdyne's solid rocket business took a significant hit in 2015 when the United Launch Alliance picked Orbital ATK (acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2017) as its exclusive supplier of solid boosters for the Atlas 5 rocket and Vulcan, its next-generation launch vehicle
FREMONT, CA: Rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne announced the installation of a steel casting bell at its new facility in Camden, Arkansas. The company intends to develop and produce large solid rocket motors at the new facility. Rocketdyne expects the 17,000 square foot facility to open for operations later this year. The construction of the plant started in spring 2019 and has cost over USD 15 million to build.
Aerojet Rocketdyne President and CEO Eileen Drake labeled the installation of the casting bell as a significant milestone in the company's efforts to remain a viable supplier of large solid rocket motors for national security programs such as the Air Force's Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program and the Missile Defense Agency's Next Generation Interceptor program. Rocketdyne's solid rocket business took a significant hit in 2015 when the United Launch Alliance picked Orbital ATK (acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2017) as its exclusive supplier of solid boosters for the Atlas 5 rocket and Vulcan, its next-generation launch vehicle. Subsequently, the company shut down its large solid rocket motor production facility in Sacramento, California, and initiated plans to reconstitute the line in Camden.
Over the years, Northrop Grumman has emerged as the most dominant player in the solid rocket market. The company is currently the only manufacturer for the USD 63 billion Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program to develop a new intercontinental ballistic missile for the U.S. Air Force. In September, Aerojet Rocketdyne joined Northrop Grumman's GBSD team, ensuring that Aerojet can continue to produce solid rockets.
Rocketdyne relocated the vacuum chamber casting bell from the company's Sacramento facility, where it was used to produce large rocket boosters for the Atlas 5. The new Camden facility will host the production of warheads for the U.S. military in addition to sizeable solid rocket motors for GBSD or other programs. The new plant will be able to manufacture motors up to 470 inches long and up to 100 inches in diameter.
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