MINNEAPOLIS -- ATK said two reusable solid rocket motors (RSRM) manufactured by its Aerospace Group helped launch NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery on a mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on Aug. 10.
Manufactured by ATK Thiokol Propulsion Company, Promontory, Utah, the Space Shuttle RSRM is the largest solid rocket motor ever flown and the first designed for reuse.
Paul Ross, senior group vice president, Aerospace, said the addition of Thiokol Propulsion, which was acquired by ATK in April 2001, expands the company's solid rocket propulsion capabilities to encompass systems for commercial, military, and civilian use.
"Our propulsion products range from boosters and staging motors for space launch vehicles such as the Delta family, Pegasus, Taurus, Athena, Atlas, H-IIA, and Titan IV B - to systems for key strategic programs like the Trident II Fleet Ballistic Missile, Minuteman III, and the administration's national missile defense initiative," said Ross. "We also serve the propulsion needs of the military, providing systems for Navy ballistic missile defense programs and tactical missiles fired from aircraft and ships. Rounding out our portfolio are the RSRMs for NASA's Space Shuttle - the cornerstone of America's civilian space program. All together, it's a product offering that makes ATK the aerospace industry's leading supplier of high-quality solid propulsion systems."
Gerald Smith, president, ATK Thiokol Propulsion Company, said the reusability of the Shuttle RSRM case is one of the most important cost-saving factors in the nation's Space Transportation System.
"Each RSRM case consists of 11 steel sections, each designed to perform safely and predictably for up to 20 launches or static tests," said Smith. "Portions of the case used in the current mission (STS-105) were used as early as the second Space Shuttle flight in November 1981, and as recently as STS-91 in July 1998. All together, portions of the cases have flown on 40 Space Shuttle missions and have been used in four static test firings."
Other key facts about the Space Shuttle RSRM:
· The RSRMs provide 71 percent of thrust at liftoff and during first-stage ascent. · From ignition to end of burn, each RSRM generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds and burns for approximately 124 seconds. · Each motor is just over 126 feet long and 12 feet in diameter. The entire booster - including nose cap, frustum, and forward and aft skirts - is approximately 149 feet long. Of the motor's total approximate weight of 1.25 million pounds, propellant accounts for approximately 1.1 million pounds. · By the time the RSRMs have completed their task, the Space Shuttle orbiter has reached an altitude of 24 nautical miles and is traveling at a speed in excess of 3,000 miles per hour. · With safety, quality, and reliability as their primary objectives, ATK Thiokol Propulsion Company engineers' direct approximately 110,000 quality control inspections on each RSRM flight set.
Highlighting the 13-day Discovery mission is the rotation of the International Space Station crew, the third flight of an Italian-built Multipurpose Logistics Module delivering additional scientific racks, equipment, and supplies for the Space Station, and two space walks. The mission will involve three crews: the four-member crew of Discovery, the three members of the Expedition Three crew to be launched to the Space Station, and the three members of the Expedition Two crew returning to Earth aboard Discovery.
ATK is a $1.6 billion aerospace and defense company with leading positions in propulsion, composite structures, munitions, and precision capabilities. The company, which is headquartered in Hopkins, Minn., employs approximately 9,600 people and has two business segments: Aerospace and Defense.
ATK Rocket Motors Launch Shuttle Discovery On Mission To International Space Station