GenCorp, parent company of rocket engine builder Aerojet, announced the purchase of competitor Rocketdyne from Pratt & Whitney (P&W), for $550 million.

The sale is financed through cash and debt issuance, according to GenCorp. The long-rumoured sale comes seven years after P&W purchased the company from Boeing for $700 million.

The announcement comes after rampant speculation about the sale. P&W announced in late 2011 that it would sell Rocketdyne in order to finance its $16 billion purchase of Goodrich.

"This transaction almost doubles the size of our company and provides additional growth opportunities as we build upon the complementary capabilities of each legacy company that has enabled a generation of human space travel and national security launch services," says GenCorp chief executive officer Scott Seymour.

Rocketdyne is one of the foremost rocket engine builders in the world, known for powering the main US launch vehicle family, the evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV), with both lower and upper stage engines, and is on track to build both stages of the Space Launch System (SLS). The company also builds the supersonic combustion ramjet for the Boeing X-51A Waverider.

 Delta IV rocket launch

 ©United Launch Alliance

The EELV programme has produced highly reliable launch vehicles and is almost exclusively responsible for launching large US payloads into orbit and beyond. Despite its successes, EELV has been criticized for its high costs.

Aerojet is a manufacturer of both solid and liquid engines, including solid rocket boosters for the Atlas V EELV and the core stage engine of Orbital Sciences' Antares launch vehicle, which is scheduled for a first launch in October.

Neither P&W, Aerojet or GenCorp responded to immediate inquiries.

Source: Flight International