Composite Crew Module to Undergo NASA Testing Phase

23 October 2009

Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has delivered a full-scale, crew module structure made of composite materials to NASA. The Composite Crew Module (CCM) is a capsule design that ATK hope will reduce the overall weight of future manned launch vehicles.

The CCM was constructed in two primary sections. The upper and lower shells are joined together with a splice joint and cured using out-of-autoclave technology. The bonding of the composite assemblies and integration of metal hardware were achieved by combining existing technology and ATK's manufacturing processes.

In what is believed to be a unique process, the CCM was specifically designed and built to resemble a space capsule. Full-scale structural testing will be performed at NASA's Langley Research Center to determine the strength and viability of the composite structure. During the destructive testing, the CCM will be placed under load conditions similar to those observed during launch, on-orbit, landing, and abort scenarios.

Led by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), ATK was part of a team of NASA and industry experts who designed and fabricated the CCM to demonstrate how composite materials could be used to develop a pressurized space capsule. ATK provided composites design, analysis, manufacturing and assembly expertise for the CCM program.

""ATK has decades of experience in building composite structures for launch vehicles, military aircraft, and most recently commercial aircraft such as the Airbus A350,"" Jack Cronin, President, ATK Mission Systems. ""We have applied our innovative engineering and manufacturing capabilities to help the CCM team build a cutting-edge, composite space structure. We demonstrated our ability to perform, partner and deliver an advanced composite structure that's never been built for NASA.""

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