CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Utah's Alliant Techsystems is teaming up with NASA in agreement touted as helping to marry a system of two rockets to get commercial crews into space by as quickly as 2015.
Under the first stage of the agreement announced Tuesday, ATK will partner with NASA by tapping the agency for its expertise in launch systems and other engineering technology such as thrust and vibration analysis.
The agreement will further refine the Liberty Launch System, which had a successful static test of its five stage DM-3 motor just last week in Promontory.
At the time, ATK officials said the motor exceeded expectations in which 37 objectives were measured through 979 instrumentation channels.
Kent Rominger, vice president of strategy and business development for ATK's Aerospace division, said the Liberty is the most advanced and most proven heavy launch rocket motor that is part of a system that will ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Carrying capacity would be seven people absent modifications.
Rominger said the agreement with NASA will allow ATK to utilize the infrastructure at the Kennedy Space Center as analysis goes forward into next spring. A subsequent agreement will have to be forged between the two partners as they move forward with a phased-in approach.
ATK and European company Astrium announced in February plans to develop the Liberty Launch system. Rominger said the Liberty, which stands 30 stories tall, is capable of carrying any existing commercial space flight or any that might be under development.
The agreement will help ATK operate the first and second stage rockets as one system.
"Although both stages have a lot of flight time, it it has not flown as a system," Rominger said. It is anticipated that 300 additional jobs in Florida will be created as a result of the partnership and it will help to solidify Utah's ATK aerospace workforce.