December 28, 1955: Firing of Aerojet-General’s Duck was Conducted at Rocket Engine Test Site

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  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The first firing of Aerojet-General Corporation’s Duck (WS 122A) was conducted at the Rocket Engine Test Site. Although successful, this small program was canceled two months later.

Aerojet was an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer based primarily in Rancho Cordova, California, with divisions in Redmond, Washington, Orange and Gainesville in Virginia, and Camden, Arkansas. Aerojet was owned by GenCorp. In 2013, Aerojet was merged by GenCorp with the former Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to form Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The space agency decided years ago against buying seamless solid rocket boosters for the shuttle that would have “precluded potential failure” associated with joints and seals because the segmented rockets offered by Morton Thiokol Inc. were cheaper, according to a 1973 NASA document.  The monolithic design was proposed by Aerojet General of California, one of the world leaders in propulsion systems, and the company planned to build the rockets as single units at its facility on the South Florida coast and barge them up to the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral.

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