Possible modifications to the Artemis program are unlikely to have a significant impact on Aerojet Rocketdyne’s company providing engines for the NASA’s Space Launch System. Dan Boehle, who serves as the chief financial officer in charge of the Aerojet Rocketdyne, downplayed the effect of potential improvements to the Artemis program by the current Biden administration, such as halting a human return to the moon’s surface until later in the decade, presenting at J.P. Morgan Industrials Conference on 15 March.
“We don’t really see any material effect from the current regime,” he stated, referencing bipartisan backing for Artemis and also a recent statement from the White House. “We’re on course and on budget, and while it’s still early in the phase, we really don’t see anything scares us at this time.” The RS-25 engines utilized in the central stage of SLS and also the RL10 engine utilized in the upper stage is supplied by Aerojet. Although the SLS’s initial flights would use RS-25 engines that were originally designed for the space shuttle as well as flown, the company was awarded a contract last year to build 18 modern engines for subsequent missions.
The job, he said, will be unaffected by any setbacks to Artemis 3 mission’s scheduled 2024 landing on the moon, which now seem unavoidable given the Human Landing System lander project’s financing shortfall. “Things could slow down a little. In 2024, we may not be able to land on the moon,” he stated. “However, we don’t anticipate it to have a significant effect on our program because these engines are pre-ordered, and we require to keep our production plants open.”
In recent years, the RS-25 has accounted for a growing portion of Aerojet’s sales, increasing from 14 percent to 18 percent of total revenues. According to Boehle, the system should remain at that level for the next several years, rising at the same rate as the firm’s corporate revenues. He stated, “The RS-25 is a wonderful program for us.”
The RS-25’s success occurs as Aerojet’s other engine projects, such as the AJ-60 strap-on solid booster it developed for the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5, are winding down. ULA has since moved to Northrop Grumman’s GEM-63 motor. “That program is no longer a headwind,” he stated, noting that the firm’s last purchases were in way earlier last year. With the withdrawal of the Delta 4 Heavy in the center of the decade, Aerojet is planning to end the RS-68 engine system. According to Boehle, the final RS-68 engine will be delivered later this year.