Aerojet Rocketdyne supplied the engines that provided the lifting power of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV heavy rocket launch Monday, which was carrying a classified U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) NROL-82 payload.
“When it comes to launching high-value national security payloads, America puts its trust in our propulsion systems,” said Eileen Drake, president and CEO of Aerojet Rocketdyne. “Our reliable, flight-proven RS-68 and RL10 engines have supported ULA’s Delta IV Heavy missions since the rocket’s first flight in 2004 and have continued with 100% mission success for nearly two decades.”
United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV rocket is made in Decatur, along with the Vulcan Centaur rocket. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Delta IV Heavy features three core stages in a side-by-side format, each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A engine generating 705,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff. The RS-68A was developed specifically for the Delta IV.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is in the process of being acquired by Lockheed Martin. The announcement of the acquisition was made in late December 2020. Lockheed Martin also has operations in Huntsville and in Pike County.
Aerojet opened its first facility in Huntsville in 2014 to work on rocket propulsion development. In June 2019, Aerojet Rocketdyne opened its Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, where it makes the solid rocket motor cases and other hardware used on U.S. defense and space programs materials.