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ATK Contributes to Launch of ULA’s Delta IV Rocket

Multiple ATK technologies supported the third successful launch in 2014 of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Yesterday's launch, the AFSPC-4 mission included two satellites and one secondary payload.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully launched the AFSPC-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force on July 28 at 7:28 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-37. This is ULA's eighth launch in 2014, and the 85th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006. The twin Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft will support U.S. Strategic Command space surveillance operations as a dedicated Space Surveillance Network sensor. Photo courtesy of ULA (PRNewsFoto/ATK)

ATK's contributions to AFSPC-4 and Delta IV include cutting-edge technologies from across the company. These products include propellant tanks on the satellite and launch vehicle, two Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM-60), large composite structures and the main engine nozzle on the Delta IV.

"The success rates of these launches are a testament to the reliability of the product and the expertise of the team," said Blake Larson, president of ATK's Aerospace Group. "Providing dependable access to space for the country is a critical aspect of supporting our nation's military."

ULA's Delta family of launch vehicles has been lifting high-priority government and commercial payloads to orbit for more than 50 years.

The Delta IV medium-plus rocket flew in configuration featuring two ATK commercial GEM-60 solid rocket motors produced in Magna, Utah. Providing an additional 560,000 pounds of thrust at lift-off for 90 seconds, these solid boosters host a flawless record with more than 40 flown.

Designed and produced in ATK's nozzle center of excellence in Promontory, Utah, the RS-68 engine nozzle includes ATK's innovative thermal protection material. This cutting-edge technology shields the nozzle from the extreme exhaust heat, which can exceed 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

ATK supplied a dozen composite structures, providing lower weight and higher performance to the Delta IV. The composite structures included the GEM cases, nose cones and aeroskirts manufactured in Clearfield, Utah, using advanced filament winding and hand layup techniques. ATK also provided the large composite structures in the Delta IV core including the thermal shield that protects the RS-68 main engine during the boost phase, the centerbody between the liquid oxygen (LO2) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) tanks, the interstage between the common booster core and cryogenic upper stage, the payload attach fitting (PAF) and PAF diaphragm, and the payload fairing that encapsulates and protects the payloads. The large composite structures are four to five meters in diameter and range from one to eight meters in length. All of the large structures are manufactured using advanced hand layup, machining and inspection techniques at the ATK manufacturing facility in Iuka, Mississippi.

ATK also manufactured the diaphragm propellant tanks for both the launch vehicle and the spacecraft. For more than 50 years, ATK's Commerce, California facility has been producing propellant tanks for military, scientific and commercial satellites, space-launch vehicles, and space-exploration vehicles.

The satellites are part of the Air Force's Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program where the Air Force monitors man-made orbiting objects in high-altitude orbits, a region populated by the military's strategic communications and early warning satellites.

ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 22 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally. News and information can be found on the Internet at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter @ATK.


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