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ATK Submits RD-180 Solid Propulsion Alternative to US Air Force

By Caleb Henry | September 23, 2014
      ULA Atlas NROL ATK

      An Atlas V launch vehicle carrying the NROL 67 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. Photo: ULA

      [Via Satellite 09-23-2014] Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has offered the United States Air Force a solid rocket alternative to the Russian-built RD-180. The proposal would replace the RD-180 with a domestically produced engine for use in United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) Atlas 5 rocket.

      According to ATK, the company has grafted new technologies into six solid rocket motors, some of which took less than two years to develop. Blake Larson, president of ATK’s Aerospace Group said the new solution can match or exceed the performance of NPO Energomash’s RD-180.

      “By combining our extensive experience with new technologies, we have provided commercial customers with low-cost solutions that progressed from design to flight qualification within months,” added Larson. “Using a similar approach, ATK’s propulsion solution will provide the U.S. Air Force with an RD-180 replacement rapidly and at a highly competitive cost.”

      In August the Air Force placed a request for information on a domestic successor to the RD-180. Since then ULA has partnered with Blue Origin to use the BE-4 engine, which currently has four more years of scheduled development in a seven-year plan.