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NASA and ATK Complete Space Act Agreement
Artist's concept of ATK's Liberty rocket launching to low Earth orbit Image above: An artist's conception of ATK's Liberty launch vehicle, which is under development to launch humans to low Earth orbit.
Image credit: NASA/ATK
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Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) has successfully completed its Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Through CCDev2, NASA is spurring innovation and development of safe, reliable and cost-effective launch vehicles and spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

ATK, based in Promontory, Utah, began exchanging technical information with NASA about its Liberty transportation system in September 2011 under an unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA).

The Liberty vehicle passed a Program Status Review (PSR) to complete the final milestone under the agreement. During the review, the Liberty team presented NASA with detailed progress of the program, including integrated master schedule, design analysis cycle status, system requirements, software status, flight test plan, system safety review, ground processing certification plan and schedule for initial operation capability.

“ATK demonstrated they have significantly matured the design of the Liberty Space Transportation System,” said CCP Manager Ed Mango. “Our NASA team, composed of multi-disciplines from multi-centers, commends ATK for successfully meeting all of their milestones."

The company completed five milestones during its CCDev2 partnership with NASA and held three Technical Interchange Meetings, called TIMs, about the rocket's avionics software, launch abort system and thrust oscillation analysis.

"It has been a privilege working with NASA to complete the SAA for the Commercial Crew Program," said Kent Rominger, ATK vice president and program manager for Liberty. "The feedback we received from the NASA Liberty team has helped further the development of the entire system and we believe ensures the program is on target for Liberty to provide a capable and safe commercial transportation to the International Space Station by mid-decade."

Liberty's design combines the company’s solid rocket boosters (SRBs) as the first stage and Astrium’s Ariane 5 core stage and Vulcain 2 engine as the upper stage. The Ariane 5 rocket motors would form a two-stage launch vehicle with a single engine per stage. Astrium is a subsidiary of the European space company EADS.

The rocket's five-segment solid rocket first stage is derived from the Space Shuttle Program’s four-segment solid rocket boosters. The first stage booster is capable of producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, roughly the same power as 63 four-engine 747 jets taking off. The five-segment first stage stands 154 feet tall. Combined with a modified Ariane 5 core stage as its upper stage, Liberty would be capable of carrying up to 44,500 pounds to low Earth orbit. Service and crew modules would be integrated to the top of Liberty in order to carry cargo and astronauts.

All of NASA's industry partners, including ATK, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit:

Candrea Thomas
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.