News End of an Era: Aerojet Rocketdyne to shutter its historic Rancho Cordova plant

MaverickSawyer

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http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-aerojet-rocketdyne-jobs-20170410-story.html

Sacramento will lose 1,100 jobs over the next 18 months as rocket engine maker Aerojet Rocketdyne plans to relocate or cut positions in that facility and move jobs to Alabama, Canoga Park and other locations.

The Rancho Cordova plant was where every LR-87 and -91, Delta, Apollo SPS, Shuttle OMS engine, and numerous other historical engines from Aerojet were built and/or developed. Even today, the facility churns out Atlas V sidemount boosters. It's been a mainstay of the Sacramento region since the mid '50s, and helped drive the development of large areas of the suburbs of Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Orangevale, and, of course, Rancho Cordova. Hell, the house I grew up in was built during the boom in Aerojet employment due to the Titan I and II production.

However, after their acquisition of Rocketdyne, Aerojet's been having a hard time making ends meet, and now the hatchet man is coming around. Rumors from some old friends in Sacramento are indicating that the massive complex will be sold to developers and turned into suburbs for a massive amount of money. There is the ongoing issue with perchlorate contamination of the water table that AR's currently on the hook to pay for the mitigation, but there's little hard proof that it's actually their fault. It simply flows out of their current property, some of which was the old McDonnell Douglas plant that tested the S-IVB stages for Apollo, and some of which was reportedly a junk yard for many years. Regardless, the State of California and the City of Sacramento both are holding AR responsible for the cleanup.

A lot of people who are currently employed there are going to have to make some hard choices. Move to LA or Alabama and stay with Aerojet Rocketdyne? Take a gamble on SpaceX or Blue Origin? Retire early? Or seek employment in some other field? It's going to be interesting to see where they go.
 

Notebook

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That's a shame, the name Rocketdyne is one the oldest and among the most famous in the history of rocketry. In my opinion.

I did a little bit of digging, when I was researching the UK Blue Streak programme. Found out the Rolls-Royce engine was a copy(official) of the Rocketdyne S-3d.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls-Royce_RZ.2

http://www.astronautix.com/s/s-3d.html

I have a book on the Atlas missile, must dig it out and have a re-read, fairly sure its got the Rocketdyne engine in there.

N.
 

MaverickSawyer

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It's only the Aerojet's plant that's closing. Rocketdyne's Canoga Park facility will remain open... for now.
 

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When the launch industry sets its mission to reduce launch costs through reusability, etc.- this is the other end. It's not magic money being saved; the people that were the suppliers loose.

But more than that, A-R has been getting its lunch eaten in space. ULA has gone with Blue Origin and Orbital ATK as its first choices for Vulcan's main and SRBs. And for that, A-R sunk huge amounts of money into a massive new engine that now does not have any customer. Continued use of RL-10s on Vulcan is not yet guaranteed either after Centaur is retired. On top of that, they are losing the Atlas V SRBs that they already made to a new Orbital ATK design. So that really just leaves SLS using their big engines, which probably won't fly that much. Overall, A-R's big rocket engine component seems like it will only keep shrinking with time.

They have a bunch of other "defense-related businesses" and tiny thrusters and so forth, so not all doom and gloom, though.
 
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