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ATK Rocket Motors and Composites Help Launch Global Positioning Satellite

  • Friday, 12th November 2004
  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

ATK solid propulsion and composite technologies supported Monday’s successful launch of a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US.

The launch successfully placed into orbit the 13th Class IIR satellite for the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS IIR-13) constellation. All 25 of the current GPS satellites were launched with the help of ATK rocket motors.

ATK told Netcomposites that the Delta family of launch vehicles is configured with affordable, high-performance Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) cases to provide additional lift capability during first-stage ignition. The graphite epoxy cases for the GEM-40 boosters, nine of which were used to launch the Delta II on November 6, are manufactured by ATK Composites in Utah.

ATK has manufactured every launch vehicle upper stage and apogee kick motor for the NAVSTAR/GPS constellation dating back to the original experimental flights in the late 1970s.

Designed to take advantage of proven, off-the-shelf technologies, the GEM system provides increased performance and heavier lift capability than the boosters of its predecessors. GEMs have demonstrated—through qualification and flight—they are the most reliable, lowest cost boosters available. State-of-the-art automation, robotics, and process controls are used to produce GEMs. Cases are filament wound at ATK Utah Composites Center by computer-controlled winding machines using high-strength graphite fibre and durable epoxy resin.

ATK Composites Role was to produce the Composite filament-wound cases which are up to 60 in. diameter and up to 42.5 ft in length. Over 950 cases have been delivered with production now in its sixteenth year. ATK also produce composite filament-wound igniter casings, aeroskirts and nose cones.

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