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ATK Composite Technologies Help Launch Weather Satellite

11 November 2006

Alliant Techsystems supported last week’s successful launch of a Boeing Delta IV rocket carrying a Department of Defense (DoD) weather satellite that is part of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

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-fuelled engine in the world, utilizing an ATK nozzle that is the first of its kind in a liquid booster engine.

ATK supplied several key composite structures for the launch vehicle: the thermal shield that houses the RS-68 main engine; the centre body structure that connects the liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks of the CBC; the liquid oxygen forward skirt that connects with the interstage and interfaces the 5 metre diameter CBC with the 4 metre diameter upper stage and payload; the payload attach fitting and diaphragm that interface the upper stage with the payload; and the payload fairing that houses the spacecraft.

The structures, which range from 4 to 5 metres (13.1 to 16.6 ft) in diameter and up to 8 metres (26 feet) in length, are produced using advanced hand layup manufacturing techniques at the company's manufacturing facility in Iuka, Miss.