Crucial for American space program development of new domestic manufactured rocket engine is still in progress. Aerojet Rocketdyne announces about next important step on the road to independence from RD-180 manufactured by Russian Energomash already in 2019.
According to statement announced by Aerojet Rocketdyne, work under AR1 engine will soon enter in next phase. Company decided where future engines will be assembled and tested. For this important and crucial phase, AR has chosen their Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. This facility is offering experience and qualified personnel due the fact, that Center in Stennis was already utilized for testing and assembly of Delta IV RS-68 engines. Stennis is also place, where present technologies are linking with the future of American space program. Place was already chosen for low pressure turbopump assembly and testing RS-25 engines, which will be propulsion of SLS launch vehicle in future and previously served as propulsion for Space Shuttle. Of course plans of Aerojet Rocketdyne are also important impetus to the development of Missisipi state, which from years is occupying last place of household income annually rank ($36919 in 2014 and 5.8% of unemployment rate on May, 2016) in USA. Stennis facility, which employs 130 workers, will increase this number after starting assembling of RS-25 and AR1 to over 200. Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake stated that:
“I am very pleased to announce our plans for expansion of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s presence in Mississippi… 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.”
As we can see politicians from Missisipi are strongly lobbying to place part of the space industry in their State. Increased presence of space industry in Missisipi in present days dates back in 2010, when Orbital ATK decided to establish new test facility for their testing AJ26 engines for Cygnus robotic spacecraft. In 2013 SpaceX entered with new engine test facility for their methane fueled Raptor engine also in NASA center in Stennis. Hopefully for Mississippi presence of space industry is growing gradually and is truly hope for better tomorrow for whole Gulf Coast.
On picture above: RS-25 engine.