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Aerojet Rocketdyne tests AR1 engine component

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests the AR1 preburner at NASA's Stennis Space Center

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests the AR1 preburner at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Photo Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne

Aerojet Rocketdyne (Rocketdyne) announced on June 17 that its AR1 engine preburner had achieved full-power—verifying injector design parameters—during a series of tests earlier this month at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing the AR1 engine for use in the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V and proposed Vulcan launch vehicles in response to recent criticism, and prohibitive legislation, concerning ULA’s use of Russian-made RD-180 engines for U.S. national security launches.

Rocketdyne has continued development of the AR1 despite ULA’s stated preference for Blue Origin‘s BE-4 engine as a successor to the RD-180.

“We are convinced our AR1 engine is the fastest, lowest cost, lowest risk way for the United States to guarantee assured access to space, proof of which is our successful preburner test,” said Rocketdyne’s President and CEO Eileen Drake. “The AR1 engine is the most advanced oxygen-rich, hydrocarbon engine in development in the United States.”

ULA’s final decision regarding an RD-180 successor is expected before the end of the year.

Rocketdyne began AR1 development in 2014 and, since that time, has met several developmental milestones. SSC preburner testing is a continuation of prior preburner testing conducted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Rocketdyne’s Sacramento, California, location.


Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.

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