Press Release

Two Aerojet Rocketdyne Programs Recognized for Outstanding Performance at Aerospace & Defense Conference

By SpaceRef Editor
December 4, 2014
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Two key programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, were recognized for outstanding performance at the 2014 Aviation Week Program Excellence Awards banquet, held in conjunction with Aviation Week’s annual Aerospace & Defense Conference on Nov. 19 and 20, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The J-2X engine program was selected as the Program Excellence Award winner in the category of Sub-System Research & Development/System Design and Development (R&D/SDD), and also was recognized for “Best Next Practices” in the category of “Beyond Compliance: Agility With Leading Indicators and EVM.” Also selected as a Program Excellence Award finalist, in the category of System Level R&D/SDD, was the X-51A Scramjet Engine Demonstrator Program.

“Aviation Week’s recognition is a great testament to the industry-leading innovation and outstanding efforts of both our J-2X and X-51A Waverider program teams,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne President Warren M. Boley, Jr. “These distinguished awards represent significant accomplishments by dedicated individuals and teams, and are a genuine privilege for our company to accept.”

“We are truly honored to have received this award,” said Ken Hunt, deputy program manager at Aerojet Rocketdyne, who accepted the award on behalf of the J-2X program. “It’s a great recognition for all the hard work and dedication that the J-2X team and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has put forward to develop a new propulsion system destined for deep space human exploration. It demonstrates how the Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA partnership continues to advance the highest standards in program management, execution and leadership. We are extremely proud to receive this recognition.”

The Aviation Week Program Excellence Awards were established in 2004, with the goals of sharing lessons learned and best next practices to improve overall industry program performance, and providing programs and information to deepen program leadership bench strength across the aerospace and defense enterprise. Winners were selected based on a multi-tiered evaluation by program-leadership experts who judged value, leadership, performance and other criteria. The judging also identified best practices and lessons to be shared across the industry through webinars, forums and conferences.

Each year, the Program Excellence Evaluation Team solicits nominations for the awards. Nominees submit a narrative, sharing the unique features and background of the program as well as a response to data-based questions in the areas of value creation, adapting to complexity, organizational effectiveness and metrics. This year, 63 nominations were initially submitted with 19 high-caliber teams selected as finalists in seven program categories.

The J-2X engine, which in April 2014 completed its final test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, is the highest performing human-rated upper-stage engine to be developed in nearly 40 years.

Over a three-year period, Aerojet Rocketdyne teams manufactured, assembled and tested four newly developed J-2X engine test articles that achieved an accumulated duration of nearly five hours firing time and demonstrated full-power operation for twice the designed life service. The J-2X delivered 30 percent more thrust and five percent more performance than the J-2 Apollo-era engine, upon which it is based.

The J-2X is a liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen fueled engine designed to start at altitude and re-start in space as part of a second or third stage of a large, multi-stage launch vehicle. With its full nozzle extension installed, the J-2X measures more than 15 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter at its base and weighs approximately 5,400 lbs. With a vacuum thrust of 294,000 lbs., the engine is designed to help loft heavy payloads—such as habitats, landers and in-space modules—beyond low-Earth orbit.

The completed J-2X testing provides direct benefits to Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-25 test program, including understanding the performance of the test stands and implementing new methods to record and interpret engine performance data. The RS-25 engines, formerly known as the Space Shuttle Main Engines, will be used to help boost NASA’s Space Launch System rocket to deliver humans to destinations in deep space. The RS-25 engines feature a modernized engine controller, successfully demonstrated on J-2X, for controlling start and shutdown valve sequencing and health monitoring control functions.

The X-51A WaveRider hypersonic vehicle, powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s SJY61 scramjet engine, achieved aviation history in 2013 by making the longest-ever supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight, flying full duration and achieving mission success.

During the record-breaking flight, the unmanned WaveRider vehicle was carried beneath the wing of a U.S. Air Force B-52 and dropped from an altitude of about 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. A solid rocket booster fired and propelled the cruiser to scramjet takeover, creating the supersonic environment necessary to operate the engine. The scramjet successfully propelled the cruiser, which traveled more than 230 nautical miles in about six minutes, streaking through the sky from Mach 4.8 to Mach 5.1 while climbing in altitude. The engine ran full duration, depleting all fuel as planned. It was the longest of the four X-51A flights and the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever.

The X-51A program is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and

SpaceRef staff editor.