Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Lockheed Martin Corporation in an all-cash transaction with a total equity value of $5.0 billion.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc., is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas. Among its multiple efforts is the development of green propulsion for spacecraft.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing propulsion systems to utilize high-performance “green” propellants. Green propulsion systems are an alternative to conventional chemical propulsion systems that use hydrazine propellants for a variety of applications, including next-generation launch vehicles and spacecraft. AR has delivered more than 2,500 biopropellant engines so far, ranging from 100 lbf to 6,000 lbf thrust.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is the primary payload provider of a demonstration propulsion system for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM). GPIM will demonstrate on-orbit use of green propellants. The first GPIM mission launched in 2019 using the propellant Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-Toxic (ASCENT). Formerly known as AF-M315E, the US Air Force Research Laboratory invented the propellant at Edwards Air Force Base in California. It is an alternative to the monopropellant hydrazine.
ASCENT is considered “green” for its significantly reduced toxicity compared to hydrazine, which requires protective suits and rigorous propellant loading processing procedures.
To test the propellant on a small spacecraft, the GPIM team had to develop hardware and systems compatible with the liquid. Aerojet Rocketdyne of Redmond, Washington, designed and built the five thrusters onboard GPIM. Aerojet Rocketdyne and Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colorado, co-designed the other elements of the propulsion system.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is also leveraging lessons from the GPIM program and its additive manufacturing efforts to develop a low-cost propulsion system for CubeSats using green propellants.
CubeSats today typically lack propulsion, leaving them with limited ability to maneuver or maintain orbit. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s modular propulsion systems cover a range of propulsion module sizes from 1U to 8U offering up to 750 m/sec delta-v capability. Aerojet Rocketdyne is working with a number of satellite manufacturers to deliver flight CubeSat propulsion modules.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by each company’s Board of Directors, Lockheed Martin will acquire Aerojet Rocketdyne for $56.00 per share in cash, representing a premium of approximately 33% to Aerojet Rocketdyne’s closing stock price on December 18, 2020 and a premium of approximately 42% to the Company’s volume weighted average stock price (VWAP) for the last 90 trading days.
The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021 and is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s stockholders. A transition team will be formed to allow for a seamless integration and ensure continuity for customers, employees and other stakeholders.