FOR SALE: Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the company that powered the space shuttle to orbit and who produces engines used in both the Atlas V as well as the Delta IV family of rockets - has been placed up for sale. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

United Technologies Corporation (UTC) has announced that it will sell off its rocket engine and wind power businesses to help finance its $16.5 billion purchase of aerospace supplier Goodrich Corporation.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne was the engine maker and supplier for the space shuttle main engines or SSMEs with over 600 employees throughout Florida including Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

The decision to sell was partly due to the end of the 30-year shuttle program. All SSMEs have been shipped out of KSC over the past few months to Stennis Space Center where they will be stored in preparation for possible use in NASA’s Space Launch System or SLS. The few remaining Rocketdyne employees at KSC will install the final three dummy engine bells, know as Replica Shuttle Main Engines or RSMEs into space shuttle Endeavour starting next week.

As the elements that made the space shuttle program fly are boxed up or hauled off to museums - more and more of the infrastructure that constituted the Space Coast's aerospace capabilities are being disassembled - and possibly lost. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

United Technologies Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Gregg Hayes stated “Without a national space policy, growth will be limited.” Hayes was referring to the lack of a clearly-defined U.S. space exploration policy under the Obama Administration.

Rocketdyne has been owned by UTC for the past seven years, the wind power company, Clipper, is also being sold off because the alternative energy business espoused by the Obama White House – has stalled. Much of the established infrastructure along Florida’s Space Coast has suffered since the end of the shuttle era. With no defined goals for NASA, may companies are either dissolving or, in the case of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, selling off their space assets.

Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios
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  1. Thank you for all the hard work & SAFETY CONSCIOUSNESS…….but now it’s THE AXE…and we go from ASTRONAUTS TO ASTRONAUGHTS !!

  2. Gregg Hayes stated “Without a national space policy, growth will be limited.” Hayes was referring to the lack of a clearly-defined U.S. space exploration policy under the Obama Administration…

    I guess Rocketdyne finally figured out what “hope and change” really means.

    • There is a national policy, just not the one Hayes would like.

      We can’t afford the unsustainable path NASA would like.
      “The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources. Space operations are among the most complex and unforgiving pursuits ever undertaken by humans. It really is rocket science,” the committee wrote.

      Faced with reports that NASA’s exploration program was running into serious technical and budgetary problems, President Obama created the Augustine committee. Its 10 members concluded that there is no plan that is compatible with budget projections that “permits human exploration to continue in any meaningful way.”

      • The nation’s human space exploration policy is outlined in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

        You’re right about the Augustine Commission’s conclusion, except that you left-out an important part. Yes, under then-current budget projections, no exploration program was sustainable. So one of true recommendations from the Commission was an increase of $3.5B annually to NASA’s exploration budget.

        Also, there were no technical issues that the Augustine panel found with Constellation. The Ares I vibration issue had been swatted down by early 2009. Orion’s mass issues were trending in the right direction in 2009. And Ares V hadn’t even really begun, so no issues there. The problem with Constellation was that the projected programatic budget had been short-changed by Congress for several years. Such a funding shortage caused delays, which only increased the down-stream budget. Even Bolden, under sworn testimony, undercut the “technical issues” argument.

        Lastly, the Augustine Commission was created by staffers at OMB, NASA, and OSTP, specifically Shawcross and Kohlenberger, with the help of now-NASA CFO Beth Robinson and OSTP Chair Dr. John Holdren. Interestingly, Norm Augustine couldn’t name his own panel, the White House did that for him. And if you ever met the cast of characters that was the staff, you’d realize that the deck had been stacked for a particular outcome, one not favorable to Constellation.

    • Hi Borecrawler,
      There could be potentially a number of buyers. Lock-Mart, ULA and others could benefit from what Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has to offer.

  3. Hayes didn’t do the sales price any favors by announcing projected “slow growth” as a reason. Not much incentive for a purchase there. At one time they were worth 700m but they also had a hefty NASA contract (60% of their income) so from that one can deduce Rocketdynes value shouldn’t be more than 400m (I gave ’em a 100m).

    That coupled with the current Rocketdyne exorbitant rates which scare off new contracts, smells a lot like doom.

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