ATK, Astrium’s Liberty Rocket Combines Space Shuttle, Ariane 5 Technology

[Satellite TODAY Insider 02-09-11] ATK and Astrium have unveiled their new Liberty rocket under NASA‘s Commercial Crew Development-2 (CCDev-2) procurement program, combining ATK’s first stage four-segment solid rocket boosters from the Space Shuttle with Astrium’s second stage based on the liquid-fueled Vulcain2 engine cryogenic core it developed for Arianespace’s Ariane 5 vehicle.
    The two-stage Liberty launcher aims to deliver crew and supplies to the International Space Station. The two companies said both of the rocket’s stages were designed for human rating since inception and would enable “unmatched crew safety.” ATK said it also enhanced the rocket’s propellant grain, provided a larger nozzle opening, and upgraded the liner and insulation to meet NASA’s performance requirements and lower manufacturing costs.
    “The advantages of the Liberty launch system are extensive and built on a solid foundation of human-rated launch technology, and leveraging billions of dollars of investments by NASA and NATO-allied European Governments in the frame of the European Space Agency,” said Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager of ATK Space Launch Systems.  “We will provide unmatched payload performance at a fraction of the cost, and we will launch it from the Kennedy Space Center using facilities that have already been built. This approach allows NASA to utilize the investments that have already been made in our nation’s ground infrastructure and propulsion systems for the Space Exploration Program.”
    The ATK, Astrium team has planned an initial flight by the end of 2013, a second test flight in 2014, and operational capability in 2015. The Liberty’s five-segment first stage was ground tested in September 2009 and August 2010. Liberty’s vehicle integration, ground processing and launch operations concepts are based on the Ares I-X.
    ATK and Astrium will lead a team that includes United Space Alliance for launch vehicle integration and ground operations support and L-3 Communications of for first stage avionics.

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