News Column

New booster to launch humans will be tested in Box Elder

August 7, 2014

Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah

Aug. 07--PROMONTORY -- A new space vehicle that will launch humans deeper into space than ever before will be tested later this year in Box Elder County.

Alliant Techsystems announced Thursday that a design review with NASA has been completed and the company's five-segment solid rocket booster is on track for an unmanned, first flight on NASA's Space Launch System sometime in 2017.

"Achieving this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for ATK and NASA as we continue building the boosters for America's Space Launch System," Vice President and General Manager of ATK's Space Launch division Charlie Precourt said in a statement. "Deep space exploration requires a heavy lift vehicle, and SLS is the only vehicle with the mass, volume and speed required for human missions to destinations such as the moon, an asteroid or Mars."

With the review process complete, ATK and NASA the testing process for the SLS booster

The full testing process is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2016. During the process, a "ground static firing" of the full-scale booster is planned for sometime later this year and possibly early 2015 at ATK's facility in Promontory.

"ATK's technology innovation, process improvements and lean manufacturing will enable SLS to deliver humans and cargo to deep space faster, safer and more affordably than any other existing or planned vehicle," said Precourt, who is also a four-time space shuttle astronaut. "It is exciting to see that the teams working on SLS and the Orion crew capsule are all making steady progress toward NASA achieving a human mission to Mars by the 2030s."

Other upcoming SLS and Orion program milestones include a firing of the modified RS-25 engine this fall and the opening of the SLS Vertical Assembly Center, which is where the rocket's fuel tanks will be welded. Orion's first flight, scheduled for December 2014, will be the farthest a human-rated spacecraft has traveled into space in more than 40 years.

The SLS and Orion programs are supported by a network of hundreds of suppliers representing 47 states. ATK has 29 key SLS booster suppliers across 16 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.


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Source: Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT)

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