Changes at the top: Aerojet-Rocketdyne loses its head after Antares rocket failure, while SSTL is given a new one

by | Feb 18, 2015 | Launches, Satellites | 0 comments

The US rocket engine manufacturer, Aerojet-Rocketdyne, has had a change of leadership. The president of the firm, Warren Boley, has left the firm and will be replaced, at least on a temporary basis, by Scott Seymour, current Chief Executive of GenCorp, the company that owns Aerojet-Rocketdyne.

No formal reason for Boley’s departure has been given though there is speculation that this is a result of the financial losses incurred by the firm after the recent decision by Orbital Sciences Corp (now Orbital ATK) to replace the Antares’ AJ-26 engine design, a refurbished ex-Soviet NK-33, which was originally thought to be the primary cause of a recent Antares 130 launch failure.  Orbital Sciences Corp elected to move to Russian-built RD-181 engines for its Antares instead.

Assuming his departure was involuntary, posterity might yet deem this to have been an “unlucky” dismissal as the news agency Reuters reports that the investigation into the Antares launch failure considers that debris being left in the fuel tank during its manufacture (whose quality control, by the way, was the responsibility of Orbital Sciences Corp) might actually be the cause.

Meantime, across the pond in Surrey UK, Matt Perkins lost his job as CEO of the small satellite manufacturer, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in November.  The firm is a notionally “independent” subsidiary of Airbus Defense and Space and has even bid against its parent company, most famously winning the Galileo satellite contract as part of a team led by the German firm OHB.

However, the semi-independent firm’s Airbus overlord still has a hand in choosing SSTL’s leadership. According to Space News, Airbus was apparently dissatisfied with the financial performance of the firm under Perkins, and thus moved to replace him with the Airbus DS executive Patrick Wood, Head of Engineering and Operations at their UK operation.



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