Rocketdyne Canoga Park plant goes under the wrecking ball

GeorgeA

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http://www.dailynews.com/business/20160825/rocketdyne-plant-that-built-worlds-most-powerful-rocket-engines-being-razed

Most LA-area operations have moved up the street to the DeSoto Avenue plant. Most large manufacturing (RS-68, RS-25 restart, and future AR1 work) is now done at Stennis Space Center.

It would be nice if there would be some recognition of the historical significance of the site in the new housing development that will take its place. Maybe an "Aerospike Place" or something equivalent?
 
California. They don't care which is why you see so little left of the aerospace industry. I seem to recall that when Disney bought the old Lockheed Burbank plant (the original Skunk Works), they actually made a point of not leaving any reminders. With the closing of the old Douglas plant at Long Beach (C-17 plant), Northrop is the only one left doing aircraft manufacturing there. Lockheed's plant in Palmdale is mainly R&D.
 
George Allegrezza said:
Maybe an "Aerospike Place" or something equivalent?

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fredymac said:
California. They don't care which is why you see so little left of the aerospace industry. I seem to recall that when Disney bought the old Lockheed Burbank plant (the original Skunk Works), they actually made a point of not leaving any reminders. With the closing of the old Douglas plant at Long Beach (C-17 plant), Northrop is the only one left doing aircraft manufacturing there. Lockheed's plant in Palmdale is mainly R&D.

Well to be honest, the building is surplus to AR (and sadly, the country). It's in a heavily congested part of the valley and the land is worth quite a bit. The low level of liquid rocket engine production from the three legacy companies can be handled at other facilities, and of course Blue Origin and SpaceX have established new capabilities in the 500K lbf class. It's very sad to see it go, but absent a huge and unlikely uptick in liquid rocket engine demand, it's probably inevitable that something like this would happen.

You always wonder if there were unique and impossible-to-duplicate design or test facilities within the building that will be lost forever, but when AR consolidated its activities at DeSoto Ave., they made a point of noting their investment in new fabrication and test equipment.
 
George Allegrezza said:
You always wonder if there were unique and impossible-to-duplicate design or test facilities within the building that will be lost forever, ...

Far more important than physical infrastructural is tribal and individual knowledge. It's amazing how much of the space industry comes down to one guy knowing how to make that one thing... with hundreds of those "one things" on a spacecraft. The fact is that satellites, ICBMs, launch vehicles are at the bleeding edge of technology, but are not manufactured in any recognizable quantities. You don't need the multiple shifts of guys who know how to assemble the carburetor on the latest auto line... one guy is not only sufficient, it's *more* than sufficient. So when that one guy dies, retires, gets canned, moves away... poof, there goes your institutional knowledge on how to do that one thing just right.
 
I worked at Rocketdyne Canoga Park from 1980 through 1985 as a young engineer fresh out of school. I was assigned to the Space Shuttle (SSME) Turbopump manufacturing group where I earned my hands-on PhD. My teachers and mentors were the men and woman who first powered The USA into space and then to the moon. The tools were simple (but very large) manual machine tools, edm cutting systems, pantograph copying platforms and electroforming (electroplating) processes to form very complex parts. NC was still in development and CNC was still years away.

Myrtle main mentor was "THAT" guy. Frank was a genius. He was Rocketdyne's in-house go-to guy who could solve most any manufacturing problem, find a way to salvage most any part which had a manufacturing discrepancy or develop a new plan to manufacture a new part released from the design office. Frank was a once in a generation talent. I absorbed all I could from his knowledge, wisdom and passion for doing the right thing....no shortcuts were allowed.......EVER! This was a manned flight project we were working on and human lives were on the line.

Throughout my career I used and expanded on everything I learned during those 5 short years. Now at the end of my career, my disappointment is I never found the next "Frank" to pass the knowledge to. I blame this on the new generational work ethic, lack of passion, won't commitment to a common goal or simple lack of inquisitive interest.

New manufacturing technology has pretty much ended the old machine shop methods and processes. I acknowledge we can make better parts with modern design and manufacturing perocsses, 3D printing and everything that will come next. I get it.

My short time at Rocketdyne Canoga Park was life changing and give me a foundation to build my future on. I am forever thankful and blessed to have had Frank as my daily mentor. He was my friend, my teacher and Rocketdyne's "that guy". Godspeed Frank
 

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