ATK composite structure technologies supported the launch on May 4 of a Boeing Delta II 7920-10L rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. that successfully placed into orbit NASA’s Aqua Earth observation satellite.
Nine GEM 40 strap-on boosters manufactured by ATK Thiokol Propulsion, Promontory, Utah, at its facility in Magna, Utah, provided the initial thrust for the Boeing Delta II rocket. Six of the boosters were ignited at lift off with the rocket’s first-stage main engine, with the remaining three boosters ignited shortly thereafter. The spent motors were then jettisoned from the rocket as it continued its mission. GEM-40 boosters have flown on Boeing Delta II missions since 1990.
The composite cases for the GEM 40 boosters, which are manufactured by ATK Aerospace Composite Structures, Clearfield, Utah, are made of graphite epoxy material. The cases, which are fabricated using a process first introduced by the company in 1958 and modernized and automated over the years, support space launches by a variety of vehicles, including Delta, Titan IV, Pegasus, and Taurus.
The Aqua satellite, the latest in the Earth Observing System series, will collect atmospheric measurements as part of a long-term NASA research study of changes in the global environment. The satellite’s instruments will gather important data about global energy and water cycles, enabling scientists to monitor climate variations and trends.
ATK Thiokol Propulsion is the world’s leading supplier of solid-propellant rocket motors. In addition to the GEM-40 booster, the company manufactures the GEM-46 booster flown on the Boeing Delta III rocket. Later this year, the GEM-60 booster will fly for the first time on the new Boeing Delta IV rocket.
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