Orbital ATK played an integral role in the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on Jan. 12, the company announced.
The rocket launched a national security payload, designated NROL-47, for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of a national defense mission. Orbital ATK’s contributions to the Delta IV include cutting-edge technologies from across the company, including two Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60), large composite structures and the propellant tank and nozzle for the main engine.
“Orbital ATK is proud to support the NRO and ULA with key technologies that enable the launch of critical national defense satellites,” said Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division.
Orbital ATK provided two 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 60) for the Delta IV rocket. The 53-foot-long solid rocket boosters burned for 90 seconds and provided more than 560,000 pounds of thrust. Orbital ATK produced the solid rocket motors at its facilities in Magna and Clearfield, Utah, where it has manufactured GEM-60s for the Delta IV launch vehicle since the initial flight in 2002. Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will provide upgraded GEM 60 solid rocket boosters, designated GEM 63 and GEM 63XL, for ULA’s Atlas V and new Vulcan launch vehicles, respectively.
Orbital ATK also supplied seven Delta IV key composite structures, which provide lower weight and higher performance. The largest composite structures are five meters in diameter, range from one to eight meters in length, and are produced at Orbital ATK’s Aerospace Structures Division manufacturing facilities in Iuka, Mississippi.
“Another successful Delta IV launch is testament to our highly engineered composite structures, unwavering commitment and exceptional teamwork to ensure dependable access to space and affordable innovation in delivering this critical asset for our nation’s security,” said Steve Earl, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Aerospace Structures Division.
Additionally, Orbital ATK manufactured the propellant tank for the Delta IV upper stage roll control system at the company’s Commerce, California, facility, and designed and manufactured the nozzle for the Delta IV’s RS-68A engine at its Promontory, Utah, facility. Orbital ATK also designed and produced the nozzle’s thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding the nozzle from external temperatures that can exceed 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit during launch.