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Alliant Techsystems has received a $1.8 billion contract for the design, development, test and evaluation of the first stage of NASA’s next-generation human space flight vehicle – the Ares I.
The multi-year development contract extends through June 2013 and includes flight tests beginning in 2009. Follow-on human flights are scheduled for no later than 2014, and production hardware for those flights will be developed under a separate contract expected after 2010.
Ares I is a major element of the new space transportation infrastructure being developed by NASA to carry out the next steps in America’s space exploration roadmap. It will replace the Space Shuttle as NASA’s human spaceflight workhorse and will launch a new generation of human explorers to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, and eventually to Mars.
“”Our entire team is fully committed to supporting NASA as we work together to build this new launch vehicle for the future,”” said Ron Dittemore, President, ATK Launch Systems Group. “”Ares I has tremendous capabilities for cargo and human transportation to low earth orbit, and with the built-in heritage of the Apollo and Shuttle programs, it will be the most reliable launch vehicle ever developed.””
In December 2005, NASA named ATK as the prime contractor to design and develop the Ares I first stage. Ares I will launch NASA’s new Orion crew exploration vehicle which carries a crew of up to six astronauts on missions to and from the ISS. Orion is capable of carrying a crew of four on lunar missions.
The first stage consists of a five-segment solid rocket booster, similar to the four-segment boosters used for Space Shuttle launches. The fifth segment increases the thrust of the launch vehicle, but has been designed to fire for a similar timeframe as the space shuttle solid rocket boosters — approximately two minutes. The contract also includes systems engineering and related stage elements such as: structures, thrust vector control, avionics, ordnance, the separation system, and deceleration system.
“”Over the past year, ATK and NASA have worked closely to achieve significant program milestones and we are pleased to announce that the project is right on track,”” said Mike Kahn, Vice President, ATK Space Launch Systems. “”At the project level, we have completed the System Requirements Reviews (SRR) and have made excellent progress toward the Ares I-X test flight.””
The first stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle is being designed and developed by ATK at its facilities in Utah, with the assistance of a nationwide subcontractor team.
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