Rocketdyne

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Rocketdyne
Industry Rocket engines
Fate acquired
Successor(s) Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (2005-2013)
Aerojet Rocketdyne (2013-)
Founded 1955
Defunct 2005
Headquarters Canoga Park, California, United States
Parent North American Aviation
Rockwell International
Boeing

Rocketdyne was an American rocket engine design and production company headquartered in Canoga Park, California. Originally part of North American Aviation, it was later part of Rockwell International, then Boeing. In 2005, Rocketdyne was sold to Pratt & Whitney, becoming part of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. In 2013, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne was acquired by GenCorp, which merged it with Aerojet to form Aerojet Rocketdyne.1

History

Rocketdyne, main facility in Canoga Park, California.

Rocketdyne was formed by North American Aviation after World War II to study the German V-2 missile and adapt its engine to SAE measurements and U.S. construction details. Rocketdyne also used the same general concept of separate burner/injectors from the V-2 engine design to build a much larger engine for the Navaho missile project. This work was considered unimportant in the 1940s and funded at a very low level, but the start of the Korean War in 1950 changed priorities. Navaho ran into continual difficulties and was canceled in 1957s when Redstone missile design (essentially an improved V-2 2) had caught up in development. However the Rocketdyne engine, known as the A-5 or NAA75-110, proved to be considerably more reliable than the one developed for Redstone, so the missile was redesigned with the A-5 even though the resulting missile had much shorter range. As the missile entered production, NAA spun off Rocketdyne in 1955 as a separate division.

In 1967, NAA and Rocketdyne merged with the Rockwell Corporation to form North American Rockwell, later part of Rockwell International.

Thor, Delta, Atlas

Rocketdyne's next major development was its first all-new design, the S-3D, which had been developed in parallel to the V-2 derived A series. The S-3 was used on the Jupiter missile design, essentially a development of the Redstone, and was later selected for the considerably more capable Air Force Thor missile and its Army counterpart, the Jupiter. An even larger design, the LR89/LR105, was used on the Atlas missile. The Thor had a short military career, but it was used as a satellite launcher through the 1950s and 60s in a number of different versions. One, Thor Delta, became the baseline for the current Delta series of space launchers, although since the late 1960s the Delta has had almost nothing in common with the Thor. Although the original S-3 engine was used on some Delta versions, most use its updated RS-27 design, originally developed as a single engine to replace the three-engine cluster on the Atlas.

The Atlas also had a short military career as a deterrent weapon, but the Atlas rocket family descended from it became an important orbital launcher for many decades, both for the Project Mercury manned spacecraft, and in the much-employed Atlas-Agena and Atlas-Centaur rockets. The Atlas V is still in manufacture and use.

NASA

Rocketdyne also became the major supplier for NASA's development efforts, supplying all of the major engines for the Saturn rocket (and potentially, the huge Nova rocket designs). Rocketdyne's H-1 engine was used by the Saturn I booster main stage. Five F-1 engines powered the Saturn V's, S-IC, first stage, while five J-2 engines powered its S-II second stage, and one J-2 the S-IVB third stages. By 1965, Rocketdyne built the vast majority of US rocket engines, excepting those of the Titan rocket, and its payroll had grown to 65,000. This sort of growth appeared to be destined to continue in the 1970s when Rocketdyne won the contract for the Space Shuttle Main Engine. But the rapid downturn in other military and civilian contracts led to downsizing of the company. North American Aviation, largely a spacecraft manufacturer, and also tied almost entirely to the Space Shuttle, merged with the Rockwell Corporation in 1966 to form the North American Rockwell company (which several years later became Rockwell International), with Rocketdyne as a major division.

Downsizing

During continued downsizing in the 1980s and '90s, Rockwell International shed several parts of the former North American Rockwell corporation. The aerospace entities of Rockwell International, including the former NAA and Rocketdyne, were sold to Boeing in 1996. Rocketdyne became part of Boeing's Defense division. In February 2005, Boeing reached an agreement to sell what was by then referred to as "Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power" to Pratt & Whitney. The transaction was completed on August 2, 2005.3

Power generation

In addition to its primary business of building rocket engines, Rocketdyne has developed power generation and control systems. These included early nuclear power generation experiments, radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG), and solar power equipment, including the main power system for the International Space Stationcitation needed.

In the sale to Pratt & Whitney, the Power Systems division of Rocketdyne was transferred to Hamilton Sundstrand, another subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation.

List of engines

F-1 rocket engine

Some of the engines developed by Rocketdyne are:

See also

References

  1. ^ "GenCorp Completes Acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne From United Technologies Corporation". GenCorp News Release. GenCorp, Inc. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Redgap, Curtis The Chrysler Corporation Missile Division and the Redstone missiles © 2008; Orlando, Florida; Retrieved June 16 2011
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Taylor, John W.R. FRHistS. ARAeS (1962). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1962-63. London: Sampson, Low, Marston & Co Ltd. 

External links