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ATK - Progress On Ares Crew Launch Vehicle

ATK : 02 April, 2007  (Company News)
ATK Highlights Progress on Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle Project on Track for Ground Tests and Development Flights
Alliant Techsystems has made significant progress in developing hardware and materials in support of NASA's new Ares I crew launch vehicle. The Ares I is designed to carry crews to the International Space Station, back to the moon, and on to Mars.

In December 2005, NASA selected ATK to be the prime contractor for design and development of the first-stage propulsion system for the Ares I. The first stage is a five-segment solid Rocket booster derived from the four-segment Space Shuttle reusable solid Rocket motors (RSRM) developed and produced by ATK. 'We have made tremendous progress over the past year, and the project is on track to conduct ground and flight tests scheduled to begin in 2009,' said Ron Dittemore, President, ATK Launch Systems.

The company is primarily using existing RSRM hardware for the new stage, but has added some newly designed components to increase performance and meet a different flight profile. A number of these components are undergoing dimensional checks and verification at ATK's facilities in Utah. The parts currently being processed are destined for two full-scale engineering process simulation articles which will be shipped to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala. in March 2008 to undergo loads testing and analysis of the motor.

Changes to increase performance and meet the new flight profile include an enhanced shape of the propellant grain in the forward section, and a larger nozzle throat diameter. The core tooling to be used to achieve the new propellant shape is in manufacturing, as are components for the new nozzle.

In addition, two mockups of the forward skirt, a section located at the top of the motor between the first and second stages, have also been constructed. The forward skirt is a structural housing for all the first stage electronics. The mockups will simulate the physical space available for the Avionics and will be used to determine the optimal required space and placement of the electronics.
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