Orbital ATK propulsion, composite, spacecraft technologies support ULA Delta IV launch of WGS-8

Dec. 9, 2016
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA), maker of aerospace and defense technologies, provided propulsion, composite, and spacecraft technologies to enable the launch of both the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket and the eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-8) satellite launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA), maker of aerospace and defense technologies, provided propulsion, composite, and spacecraft technologies to enable the launch of both the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket and the eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-8) satellite launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

For the WGS-8 satellite, Orbital ATK produced both loop heat pipes and standard heat pipes, which provide payload, spacecraft bus, and battery thermal management, at its Beltsville, Maryland, facility. Additionally, Orbital ATK manufactured the payload pallet boom tubes at its Magna, Utah, location and the payload module at its San Diego, California, site.

Four Orbital ATK solid rocket motors boost United Launch Alliance's Delta IV rocket carrying WGS-8 mission into orbit from Space Launch Complex-37 at 6:53 p.m. EDT. Photo by United Launch Alliance

For the Delta IV rocket, Orbital ATK provided four 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM-60). The 53-foot-long solid rocket boosters burned for 90 seconds and provided more than 1.1 million pounds of thrust, or the equivalent of 17 wide body 747 jet engines running at full throttle. Orbital ATK produced the solid rocket motors at its Magna, Utah, facility, where it has manufactured 82 GEM-60s in support of the 34 Delta IV launches since the initial flight in 2002.

In addition to the GEM-60 propulsion, Orbital ATK supplied a combined 13 Delta IV and GEM-60 key composite structures, which provide lower weight and higher performance. The largest composite structures are four to five meters in diameter, range from one to fourteen meters in length, and are produced using either advanced wet winding or hand layup, machining, and inspection techniques at Orbital ATK’s manufacturing facilities in Iuka, Mississippi, and Clearfield, Utah.

Orbital ATK manufactured the propellant tank for the Delta IV upper stage roll control system at the company’s Commerce, California facility, and designed and manufactured the nozzles for Delta IV's RS-68A liquid engine and GEM-60 solid motors at its Promontory, Utah, facility. Orbital ATK also designed and produced the nozzle's thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding the nozzle from the extreme heat of launch, when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Orbital ATK’s propulsion and composite structures on the Delta IV performed very well, and soon the company’s space components on the WGS-8 satellite will have the opportunity to do their jobs as well,” says Scott Lehr, president of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “A launch like this one clearly demonstrates the breadth of our product lines in the launch and satellite sectors.”

The WGS-8 satellite is part of a larger system that increases military communications capabilities for U.S. and allied forces deployed worldwide. As the backbone of the U.S. military's global satellite communications, WGS provides flexible, high-capacity communications for the Nation's warfighters through procurement and operation of the satellite constellation and the associated control systems. WGS provides worldwide flexible, high data rate and long haul communications for marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, the White House Communication Agency, the U.S. State Department, international partners, and other special users.

Orbital ATK designs, builds, and delivers space, defense, and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems, and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in several international locations.

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    About the Author

    Courtney E. Howard | Chief Editor, Intelligent Aerospace

    Courtney enjoys writing about all things high-tech in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Intelligent Aerospace and Military & Aerospace Electronics. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics and space geek. Connect with Courtney at [email protected], @coho on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Google+.

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