Press Release

ATK Plays Key Roles in Successful Launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite O (GOES-O)

By SpaceRef Editor
July 4, 2009
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ATK’s Propulsion, Composite and Satellite Technologies Contribute to GOES-O Satellite Mission ATK Supports the Launch of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Medium Plus

Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) composite, propulsion and spacecraft technologies supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite O (GOES-O) on its mission to monitor weather conditions throughout the United States. The mission was flown for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which deployed the GOES-O satellite payload manufactured by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

ATK’s two 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) ignited at liftoff. The two motors are 70 feet long and provided the auxiliary lift-off capability for the Delta IV medium configuration rocket. The GEM 60s burned for 90 seconds and provided 560,000 pounds of thrust to deliver the GOES-O satellite to its determined orbit.

ATK designed and produced the nozzle for the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne-built RS-68 engine as well as the nozzle’s thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding it from the extreme heat of launch when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 degrees F. The Delta IV’s RS-68 is the largest hydrogen-fueled engine in the world, utilizing an ATK nozzle that is the first of its kind in a liquid booster engine. The nozzle is manufactured at ATK’s Promontory, Utah facility.

ATK also supplied 12 key composite structures for the Delta IV Medium plus launch vehicle: the interstage that provides the interface between the Common Booster Core (CBC) and the cryogenic second stage, two nose cones for the port and starboard CBCs, three centerbodies that integrate the liquid oxygen (LO2) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) tanks, three thermal shields that protect the RS-68 engines during ignition and flight, and three LO2 skirts. The composite structures are five meters in diameter and range from one to eight meters in length. They are produced using advanced hand layup manufacturing techniques at the company’s manufacturing facility in Iuka, Miss.

In addition, ATK designed, fabricated, and tested the spacecraft Optical Bench and Solar Array Yoke for the GOES-O satellite in Magna, Utah as partner to the prime contractor Boeing Satellite Systems. The Optical Bench for the GOES-O mission provides the thermal distortion stability for the critical Imager, sounder, and Star Tracker sensors as the primary platform for the payload. The non-traditional Yoke design also supports the Solar X-Ray imager critical to the performance of the spacecraft.

ATK is a premier aerospace and defense company with more than 18,000 employees in 22 states, Puerto Rico and internationally, and revenues in excess of $4.7 billion. News and information can be found on the Internet at

SpaceRef staff editor.