Aerojet Rocketdyne
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryAerospace, Defense
Founded1915; 109 years ago (1915) in Akron, Ohio, U.S.
FounderWilliam F. O'Neil
Key people
Ross Niebergall
(Segment President)
RevenueIncrease US$2.24 billion (2022)
Decrease US$145 million (2022)
Decrease US$74 million (2022)
Total assetsDecrease US$2.37 billion (2022)
Total equityIncrease US$541 million (2022)
Number of employees
5,283 (2022)
Footnotes / references

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a subsidiary of American defense company L3Harris Technologies that manufactures rocket, hypersonic, and electric propulsive systems for space, defense, civil and commercial applications.[3][4][2] Aerojet traces its origins to the General Tire and Rubber Company established in 1915, while Rocketdyne was created as a division of North American Aviation in 1955.[5][6] Aerojet Rocketdyne was formed in 2013 when Aerojet (then owned by GenCorp) and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne were merged, following the latter's acquisition by GenCorp from Pratt & Whitney.[7][8] On April 27, 2015, the name of the holding company, GenCorp Inc., was changed to Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc.[9] Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings was acquired by L3Harris in July 2023 for $4.7 billion.[10]


Background: Aerojet

Main article: General Tire and Rubber Company

Several decades after it began manufacturing rubber products, General Tire & Rubber diversified into broadcasting and aeronautics.

In the 1940s, the Aerojet company began experimenting with various rocket designs. For a solid-fuel rocket, they needed binders, and turned to General Tire & Rubber for assistance. General became a partner in the company.

Radio broadcasting began with the purchase of several radio networks starting in 1943. In 1952, its purchase of WOR-TV expanded the broadcast business into television. In 1953, General Tire & Rubber bought the RKO Radio Pictures movie studio.[11] All of its media and entertainment holdings were organized into the RKO General division.

Due to the studio and rocket businesses, General Tire & Rubber came to own a great deal of property in California. Its internal facilities management unit began commercializing its operations, landing General Tire & Rubber in the real estate business. This started when Aerojet-General Corporation acquired approximately 12,600 acres (51 km2) of land in Eastern Sacramento County. Aerojet converted these former gold fields into one of the premier rocket manufacturing and testing facilities in the Western world. However, most of this land was used to provide safe buffer zones for Aerojet's testing and manufacturing operations. Later, as the need for these facilities and safety zones decreased, the property became available for other uses. Located 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Sacramento along U.S. Highway 50, the properties were valuable, being in a key growth corridor in the region. Approximately 6,000 acres (24 km2) of the Aerojet lands are now being planned as a community called Easton. Easton Development Company LLC was formed to assist in the process.[12]

Background: Rocketdyne

Rocketdyne F-1 engines on the Apollo Space Program's Saturn V first stage.

In 1955, North American Aviation spun off Rocketdyne, a developer of rocket motors that built upon research conducted into the German V-2 Rocket after World War II. Rocketdyne would become a major supplier for NASA, producing the Rocketdyne F-1 engine for the Saturn V rocket of the Apollo Space Program as well as the RS-25 engine of the Space Shuttle program and its successor the Space Launch System (SLS) program. Together, Aerojet Rocketdyne has gone on to contribute to every successful NASA Mars mission, including powering the launch, entry, descent, and landing phases of the Perseverance rover mission.[13]

Name change

GenCorp wordmark until 2015.

In 1984, General Tire created a parent holding company, GenCorp, Inc., for its various business ventures.

The main subsidiaries were:

Through its RKO General subsidiary, the company also held stakes in:


Faced with a hostile takeover attempt, among other difficulties, GenCorp shed some of its long-held units in the late 1980s.

RKO General ran into difficulties with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during license renewal proceedings in the late 1980s. The FCC was reluctant to renew the broadcast licenses, due to widespread lying to advertisers and regulators. As a result of the protracted proceedings, GenCorp sold RKO General's broadcast properties beginning in 1987.

GenCorp also sold its former flagship, General Tire, to German tire manufacturer Continental AG in order to concentrate on Aerojet.

In 1999, GenCorp spun off its Decorative & Building Products and Performance Chemicals businesses. GenCorp formed OMNOVA Solutions Inc. into a separate, publicly traded company, and transferred those businesses into it.

GenCorp's two remaining businesses, as of 2008, were Aerojet and Easton Real Estate.[14]

Pension problems and leadership changes

GenCorp withdrew its over-funded pension during the real estate boom years of 2006 and 2007. The real estate bust caused an underfunding of the pension plan of over $300 million. This caused a freeze of its pension plan on February 1, 2009, and an end to 401(k) match on January 15, 2009. The move was expected to save the company 29 million a year.[15]

In March 2008, hedge fund Steel Partners II, which owned 14% of GenCorp, made an agreement that saw Terry J. Hall step down as CEO and gave Steel Partners II control of three board seats plus the selection of the new CEO (who would also hold a board seat). Steel Partners II had previously attempted a hostile takeover in 2004, and forced the deal after complaining about "significant underperformance and deterioration of share price". Aerojet President J. Scott Neish was named interim CEO.[16]

In January 2010, Scott Seymour, the former head of Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems from 2002 to 2008, was appointed permanent CEO of GenCorp and Neish resigned.[17]

Aeronautics expansion

Aerojet Rocketdyne logo until 2023, which also used by its holding company.

In July 2012, GenCorp agreed to buy rocket engine producer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from United Technologies Corporation for $550 million.[18][19][20] The FTC approved the deal on June 10, 2013, and it closed on June 17.[21] [22][23][24] GenCorp was later renamed Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc on April 27, 2015.

Abandoned acquisition by Lockheed Martin

On December 20, 2020, it was announced that Lockheed Martin would acquire the company for $4.4 billion.[25] The acquisition was expected to close in first quarter of 2022,[26] but this received opposition from Raytheon Technologies. Later the FTC sued to block this deal on a 4–0 vote in January 2022 on grounds that this would eliminate the largest independent maker of rocket motors[27][28] and Lockheed subsequently abandoned the deal in February 2022.[29][30]

Acquisition by L3Harris

In December 2022, L3Harris Technologies agreed to buy the company for $4.7 billion in cash.[31] The acquisition was completed in July 2023.[10] L3Harris named former CTO Ross Niebergall as president of the new Aerojet Rocketdyne business segment,[2] which would now be headquartered in Palm Bay, Florida.[32]


RS-25 engines

Current engines

Former production engines and others

In development

X3 ion thruster

On 13 October 2017, it was reported that Aerojet Rocketdyne completed a keystone demonstration on a new X3 ion thruster, which is a central part of the XR-100 system for the NextSTEP program.[40][41] The X3 ion thruster was designed by the University of Michigan[42] and is being developed in partnership with the University of Michigan, NASA, and the Air Force. The X3 is a Hall-effect thruster operating at over 100 kW of power. During the demonstration, it broke records for the maximum power output, thrust and operating current achieved by a Hall thruster to date.[40] It operated at a range of power from 5 kW to 102 kW, with electric current of up to 260 amperes. It generated 5.4 newtons of thrust, "which is the highest level of thrust achieved by any plasma thruster to date".[40][43] A novelty in its design is that it incorporates three plasma channels, each a few centimeters deep, nested around one another in concentric rings.[41] The system is 227 kg (500 lb) and almost 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) in diameter.[40]

Other notable products

Multi-mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator

Aerojet Rocketdyne is the prime contractor to the US Department of Energy for the Multi-mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. The first flight MMRTG is currently powering the Mars Curiosity Rover, and a second flight unit powers the Perseverance Rover.[citation needed]

See also


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  2. ^ a b c Weisgerber, Marcus (28 July 2023). "On Day 1 of ownership, L3Harris pledges to invest in Aerojet Rocketdyne". Defense One. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  3. ^ "About Us | Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc". Archived from the original on 2023-04-14. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  4. ^ "Hypersonics | Aerojet Rocketdyne".
  5. ^ Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (21 April 2015). "GenCorp Announces Effective Date for Name and Stock Ticker Symbol Change". GlobeNewswire News Room (Press release).
  6. ^ "Rocketdyne | American company | Britannica".
  7. ^ "Two engine rivals merge into Aerojet Rocketdyne". Spaceflight Now. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  8. ^ Roop, Lee (June 17, 2013). "Here's how Aerojet Rocketdyne might bring 5,000 new aerospace engineering jobs to Huntsville". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  9. ^ "History". Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings. Archived from the original on 2016-08-07. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  10. ^ a b Losey, Stephen (July 28, 2023). "L3Harris closes purchase of Aerojet Rocketdyne". Defense News.
  11. ^ "R. K. O. STUDIO SOLD TO GENERAL TIRE; Hughes Stock Acquired for $25,000,000 in Cash -- Use as TV Film Center Hinted General Tire Buys R.K.O. Studio From Hughes for 25 Million Cash". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1955-07-19. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  12. ^ "Easton Plan Home". Archived from the original on March 18, 2009.
  13. ^ "NASA Perseverance's Mission to Mars Propelled by Aerojet Rocketdyne | Aerojet Rocketdyne".
  14. ^ "Home - Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc".
  15. ^ "GenCorp Freezes Pension Plan". The Rancho Cordova Post. Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  16. ^ "GenCorp board faces shake-up: CEO steps down; Steel Partners II, a hedge fund, wins directors' seats". TCMNet News. Thomson Dialog NewsEdge. 6 March 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  17. ^ "Northrop Veteran Takes Helm of Gencorp, Aerojet". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  18. ^ Los Angeles Times; "Rocketdyne sold to GenCorp" . accessed 12.12.2012
  19. ^ "GenCorp to buy rocket manufacturer Rocketdyne". Flightglobal. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  20. ^ "Who's Where", Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 1, 2007
  21. ^ "Home - The Fly".
  22. ^ "Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Cuts 100 Jobs - SpaceRef Business".
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  27. ^ Stone, Mike (20 December 2020). "Lockheed Martin inks $4.4 billion deal to acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne". Reuters.
  28. ^ "FTC Sues to Block Lockheed Martin Acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne". The Wall Street Journal. 25 January 2022.
  29. ^ Johnsson, Julie (2022-02-13). "Lockheed Scraps Aerojet Deal After FTC Takes Tough Merger Stance". MSN.
  30. ^ Erwin, Sandra (February 17, 2021). "Raytheon to challenge Lockheed Martin's acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne". Space News. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  31. ^ Gomez, Nathan; Ghosh, Kanjyik (December 19, 2022). "Defense firm L3Harris to buy Aerojet for $4.7 bln with eye on missile demand". Reuters.
  32. ^ Berman, Dave. "L3Harris completes $4.7B deal for rocket-engine maker Aerojet, which will based in Palm Bay". Florida Today. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
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  34. ^ W. David Woods, How Apollo Flew to the Moon, Springer, 2008, ISBN 978-0-387-71675-6, p. 19
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