Aerojet Rocketdyne opens Alabama advanced manufacturing facility

Aerojet Rocketdyne opens Alabama advanced manufacturing facility
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake speaks at a ceremony marking the opening of the company's advanced manufacturing facility in Huntsville. (Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Aerojet Rocketdyne officially opened its newest state-of-the-art rocket propulsion advanced manufacturing facility in Huntsville, marking the latest milestone in the company’s ongoing expansion in Alabama’s “Rocket City.”

The 136,000-square-foot facility will produce solid rocket motor cases and other hardware for the Standard Missile-3, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, and other U.S. defense and space programs.

“Huntsville is a great place to build a future – and that’s what we are doing with our expansion here,” Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake said.

Drake and Executive Chairman Warren Lichtenstein joined Gov. Kay Ivey and local leaders Thursday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility, called AMF for short. Work on the facility began in late 2017.

“This is an exciting day for Aerojet Rocketdyne, the City of Huntsville and for the entire state of Alabama,” Ivey said. “When a high-caliber company like Aerojet Rocketdyne locates a cutting-edge manufacturing facility in your state, it’s a powerful testament to the skill of your workforce and to the advantages you can offer to business.

“We’re thrilled to see this great company grow in Huntsville and make important contributions to the nation’s defense.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne is part of Alabama’s growing presence in aerospace. The company just opened an advanced manufacturing facility in Huntsville. (Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Growing workforce

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s workforce in Huntsville is growing rapidly as it implements a program to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.

The company officially established Huntsville as the headquarters of its Defense Business Unit in 2016. The company’s local workforce, which numbered about 70 in 2017, now tops 400, with additional growth planned as the AMF reaches full production rates.

“The AMF provides Aerojet Rocketdyne the capabilities we need to advance our nation’s security today and to further technologies that will allow us to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” Drake said.

Drake said key reasons for making Huntsville the center of the company’s defense business include the area’s highly technical corps of  engineers and scientists, as well as the location’s proximity to the company’s key customers and government partners.

In addition to current programs, which are being transferred from other locations, the AMF is designed to accommodate new opportunities, including hypersonics and the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program.

“Huntsville’s legacy as the cradle of the nation’s missile program and a hotbed for the development of rocket propulsion systems makes it the perfect home for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new advanced manufacturing facility,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“The cutting-edge activities that will be conducted at the company’s new facility will solidify the Rocket City’s reputation for innovation and technical capability.”

‘Leadership role’

On Thursday, Drake formally cut the ribbon on the company’s 122,000-square-foot Defense Headquarters building in Huntsville and hosted state and local officials at an open house reception.

At this facility, the company is supporting important innovations for America’s warfighters and explorers, from industry-leading hypersonics technology to the advanced controller for the RS-25 engines that will power NASA’s Space Launch System.

“We are grateful to Aerojet Rocketdyne for choosing Huntsville, this site and our highly skilled people to produce some of the most advanced defense and space manufacturing technology in the world,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.

“We look forward to a long and prosperous future together as Aerojet Rocketdyne continues its leadership role in our nation’s journey into space.”

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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