NASA Partners with ATK to Develop Liberty Launch System
[Satellite TODAY Insider 09-14-11] ATK has entered into a partnership with NASA to co-develop ATK’s commercial Liberty Launch System and support future partnerships under the 2010 U.S. National Space Policy, ATK announced Sept. 13.
The unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) enables NASA and the Liberty program office to provide technical interaction for the launch system during the preliminary design review phase of the program.
ATK is the prime contractor for the Liberty launch vehicle, which combines two propulsion systems – ATK’s human-rated five-segment solid rocket motor as the first stage and Astrium’s core stage from the Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket, which includes the Vulcan 2 engine, as Liberty’s upper stage.
The SAA will remain in effect until at least March 2012. ATK said its Liberty team would work with NASA’s Commercial Crew Office out of Kennedy Space Center to meet four milestones under the program.
“This SAA enables us to exchange information with NASA and receive valuable insight as we develop our fixed-price commercial crew vehicle and prepare it for test flight as early as 2014. This helps us to ensure that we provide the safest, most reliable, cost-effective and capable launch vehicle for crew transport,” ATK vice president and Liberty program manager Kent Rominger said in a statement.
The Liberty Launch System has been under development for more than a year. In that time, the rocket received approval for international technical exchange agreements and successfully completed a System Requirements Review and a System Development Review.
Rominger said his company continues to work towards a Preliminary Design Review, and that all efforts that have been supported exclusively by internal funding. “ATK plans to implement a launch system to serve various commercial markets, including crew, cargo, and government satellite markets. With this SAA we believe NASA will benefit from gaining insight into the various systems we are developing, and we can benefit from the feedback. In the end, we hope to offer a commercial solution to NASA, the Department of Defense and other commercial human spaceflight programs. Now that we are working closely with NASA, we will also look for other funding sources to further speed the development of Liberty”
ATK plans to hold a test launch in 2014, with a crewed flight on the vehicle’s third flight in 2015.