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Aerojet Rocketdyne Opens State-of-the-Art Propulsion Facility in Huntsville

Huntsville can expect up to 600 new jobs according to Gov. Kay Ivey, thanks to Aerojet Rocketdyne’s opening of a 136,000 square-foot rocket propulsion advanced manufacturing facility.

Dignitaries cut the ceremonial ribbon at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s 136,000 square-foot rocket propulsion advanced manufacturing facility. (Photo by Jonathan Stinson)

“Between the capabilities of the Alabama workforce and your company’s innovation, our possibilities seem limitless,” Ivey said. “Aerojet’s continued expansion of its location in Huntsville will bring more than 600 new jobs and it clearly demonstrates their confidence in the Rocket City and the State of Alabama.”

In addition to Ivey and Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake, many senior Alabama officials were on hand for a ribbon-cutting Friday, including Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and State Director of Commerce Greg Canfield.

The facility is at 7800 Pulaski Pike and will produce products such as solid rocket motor cases and other hardware for the Standard Missile-3, Thermal High Altitude Arial Defense System and other U.S. defense and space programs.

It has also been designed for new program opportunities including hypersonic and the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program. 

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO Eileen Drake addresses the crowd during the company’s ribbon cutting ceremony for its rocket propulsion advanced manufacturing facility.

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

In his remarks, Battle recounted some of the conversations he and Drake had about her vision for the company to be an employer of choice in its field and how Huntsville could play a role and work collaboratively with them to make that happen.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne has invested many, many times into this community,” Battle said. “And, as they have invested, their name is out there as an employer of choice.

“… Many of you don’t know, but this building was built by the Industrial Development Board of the Chamber of Commerce and it was built by that group for Aerojet Rocketdyne so we could make a facility here that would be second to none.”

The manufacturing facility is a continuation of growth by Aerojet Rocketdyne in the area. The company made Huntsville its headquarters for a new Defense Business Unit in 2016 and opened a 122,000 square-foot defense headquarters facility June 6. 

Drake cited Huntsville’s technical workforce of engineers and scientist, along with its close proximity to the company’s key customer base and government partners as making the city an ideal location for the Defense Business Unit.

“I still have the personal letter Mayor Tommy Battle sent me that said ‘Eileen, how about a rocket headquarters in the Rocket City. Think Big,’” Drake said. “I think we’ve thought big and we’ve kept our promise.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new 136,000 square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Facility will produce advanced propulsion products such as solid rocket motor cases and other hardware for critical U.S. defense and space programs. (Aerojet Rocketdyne Photo)

Turner celebrates topping out at Aerojet Rocketdyne plant

Turner Construction’s Lee Holland signs the I-beam during the topping-out ceremony. (Photo by Nathan Bivens)

Turner Construction recently celebrated the topping-out for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville. The facility began construction in March and is set for completion in December.

The 136,000-square-foot industrial facility, sitting on 18.25 acres at the corner of Pulaski Pike and Prosperity Drive, will be used to produce subcomponents of the AR1 rocket engines, composite cases for rocket motors and 3D-printed rocket engine components.

The plant will also bring approximately 180 jobs.

Project executives and site leaders at the event included James Ramseier, senior manager at Aerojet Rocketdyne; Chip Cherry, CEO of Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce; Medora Gaddes, assistant project manager at Hoar Program Management; Justin Lanfair, Turner Construction project manager; and Denny Lulfs, Turner Construction superintendent.

Lulfs, along with the project team, raised the final beam during the celebration.

“Turner’s extensive background in aerospace and manufacturing work made them ideally suited for this project, and we’re excited to see the progress so far,” said Ramseier. “Their team’s high level of knowledge and experience gives us great confidence in their ability to complete this highly technical and complex project on schedule.”

Rendering shows the Aerojet Rocketdyne facility that is expected to be completed in December.

The building’s exterior is a conventional steel framing, with site-cast insulated load-bearing tilt-up wall panels. Inside, there will be several 5- and 10-ton cranes and process-driven utility systems. Turner is collaborating on the project with Fuqua & rtners Architects and engineers at LBYD, SSOE Group and S&ME.

“Having already built a number of large aerospace facilities across North Alabama and the nation, our team was well prepared to take on a project of this magnitude,” said Lee Holland, project executive at Turner Construction’s Huntsville office. “We’re proud to be a part of this high-profile facility, which will continue to build Huntsville’s reputation as an emerging aerospace and technology hub.”