Higher, Faster, Further: 1970-1996

Rockwell International ... Autonetics Guidance & Rocketdyne Power

In 1979, the Autonetics division of Rockwell International won the full-scale development contract for integrating the LGM-118 Peacekeeper ICBM. It delivered the first Missile Electronics & Computer Assembly (MECA) for the Peacekeeper in 1981 and the first Peacekeeper flew in 1983. Ten years later, Autonetics began working on the Minuteman III Guidance replacement program.

In December 1980, Autonetics became part of Defense Electronics Operations, based in Anaheim, Calif., and later in Duluth, Ohio. Its programs included the HELLFIRE anti-armor missile system, the GBU-15/AGM-130 weapon system, and spot tracker for the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

By the 1960s, more than 16,000 people worked for Rockwell's Rocketdyne division in Southern California. After 1967, the division expanded its operations to support North American's Envirotech Corp., the first "total systems" company in the pollution control field. It also built the experimental advanced Aerospike engine and afterburners for the turbofan engines of the F-111 advanced fighter and developed a new energy-propellant rocket engine called FLEXEM (flexible energy management).

Rocketdyne also supported the U.S. Air Force Airborne Laser Laboratory and built torpedo ejection systems for the Navy's Trident nuclear submarines, as well as engines for the Lance missiles, Peacekeeper missiles, Boeing JETFOILs, and the fourth stage of the Minuteman III.

In 1978, Rocketdyne sold its Solid-Propellant Rocket division at McGregor, Texas, to Hercules Inc. and in 1982 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Atlas program, which had 467 successful launches. In 1989, a Rocketdyne-powered Delta II launched the first production global positioning satellite, and in 1990, the division opened the Space Power Electronic Laboratory to test circuitry for the International Space Station.

Through to the end of the century, Rocketdyne engines launched U.S. satellites and the country's first crewed spaceflight and powered the Saturn V and every major space program in the United States, including Skylab, Pioneer 2, the space shuttles, and the Atlantis spaceprobe.

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