I know that Orbital ATK builds solid rocket boosters, but where do they get the bulk material from? Is there a single supplier or multiple suppliers of solid rocket fuel or do motor manufacturers generally source the bulk fuel themselves from raw material suppliers?

What about other solid rocket motor manufacturing, where do they source their fuel?

I would be interested in how the motor manufacturer also performs quality assurance on the material as well.

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    $\begingroup$ This might provide some background $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


Partial answer: the ammonium perchlorate is manufactured in the western United States.

The two perchlorate manufacturing facilities located in Henderson, the Kerr-McGee and the PEPCON plants, supplied the entire perchlorate demand for the United States until 1988, when the PEPCON plant was destroyed by an explosion.

(note: Henderson is in Nevada)

Source 1

The PEPCON plant was rebuilt in Cedar City, Utah. It is now run by AMPAC who is now the sole US producer.

One result of the fallout from such a massive industrial disaster was the merging of PEPCON and Kerr-McGee into one producer of ammonium perchlorate under the roof of a state-of-the-art facility designed to handle all of the U.S. government’s ammonium perchlorate needs in Cedar City, Utah, with a 40 million pound-a-year capacity.

The government decided to assist in consolidating the business because having two suppliers was not efficient, according to one source. The two suppliers were having to make up for large fixed costs to run their facilities while producing roughly 20 million pounds per year. Merging the two under one roof drove the cost per pound of ammonium perchlorate down due to economies of scale.

The government also right-sized the facility based on the amount of ammonium perchlorate it projected it would need on a regular yearly basis. The cost to the government for its AP purchases each year has been roughly $60 million on a consistent basis, the source said.

Source 2

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    $\begingroup$ Is AP really the only fuel currently used? $\endgroup$
    – MikeB
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeBrockington the AP is actually the oxidizer. Aluminum powder is the fuel. Don't know about other motors. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 14:30

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