Aerojet Rocketdyne, ULA Join Air Force’s EELV Propulsion Tech Development Program


rocket-launchAerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Alliance have won separate “other transaction” agreements worth a combined $161.9 million to build rocket engine prototypes under the U.S. Air Force‘s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle initiative.

The Air Force said Monday the $115.3 million OTA with Aerojet Rocketdyne centers on the development of the company’s liquid oxygen/kerosene-based propulsion system AR1.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne originally designed its AR1 technology to operate on ULA’s Atlas V and Vulcan launch vehicles and said the total agreement value could reach $804 million over the course of the public-private partnership.

The $46.6 million OTA with ULA covers work on the BE-4 engine, which the Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) joint venture is developing with Blue Origin, and an upper-stage motor known as Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage.

“Having two or more domestic, commercially viable launch providers that also meet national security space requirements continues to be our end goal, ” noted Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, program executive officer for space at the Air Force and commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center.

Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) and SpaceX were awarded OTAs worth $180.2 million and $61.4 million, respectively, in January to also help the military service build domestic substitutes for the Russian RD-180 rocket engine.

SpaceX will further develop its Raptor engine while Orbital ATK will continue work on the firm’s GEM 63XL and Common Booster Segment solid-rocket motors as part of the RD-180 replacement effort.

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