ATK successfully tested its newly developed CASTOR® 30XL upper stage solid rocket motor today at the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tennessee.
The test was the final qualification for the ATK commercial motor, which was jointly developed by ATK and Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) in just 20 months from concept to completion. The CASTOR 30XL is designed to ignite at altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. In order to accurately test the motor performance, the static fire was conducted at AEDC using a vacuum chamber specially designed to simulate upper atmospheric conditions. Initial data indicate the motor performed as designed, and ATK will now analyze the results against its performance models.
“I am very pleased with our successful CASTOR 30XL test,” said Scott Lehr, ATK vice president and general manager of Defense and Commercial Systems. “In less than two years, the ATK/Orbital team designed and built the motor that was fired today. We look forward to seeing this stage become part of the Antares launch vehicle, supporting ISS cargo resupply missions for NASA.”
The motor is intended for use by Orbital as an enhanced second stage of the Antares™ launch vehicle. Antares is slated to perform commercial cargo re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, to be demonstrated under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program for later delivery missions to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.
The CASTOR 30XL solid rocket motor is 92 inches in diameter, 236 inches in length and weighs approximately 58,000 lbs. The nozzle is eight feet long with a submerged design with a high-performance expansion ratio (56:1) and a dual density exit cone well-suited for high altitude operation. The CASTOR 30XL is a high-performing upper stage motor in ATK’s commercial product line of solid rocket motors. The company’s flight-proven rocket motors are utilized for military and commercial customer missions.
A basic version of the CASTOR 30 motor was tested at AEDC in December 2009 and will fly the initial Antares missions. The CASTOR 30XL is an upgraded version that will fly later operational missions requiring greater payload capacity.
The CASTOR 30XL motor was tested at AEDC due to their unique capability of being able to simulate second stage flight conditions. The Air Force base has 27 test units with capabilities that are unique in the United States and 14 that are unique world-wide.
A key partner supporting ATK through development and production of the CASTOR 30XL motor is Moog Inc. in East Aurora, N.Y., which produced the Thrust Vector Control (VTC) System. This system was developed by the C30 program to have common hardware for future use on other ATK motors.
ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 21 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally. News and information can be found on the Internet at www.atk.com.
Certain information discussed in this press release constitutes forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although ATK believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be achieved. Forward-looking information is subject to certain risks, trends and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Among those factors are: changes in governmental spending, budgetary policies and product sourcing strategies; the company’s competitive environment; the terms and timing of awards and contracts; and economic conditions. ATK undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements. For further information on factors that could impact ATK, and statements contained herein, please refer to ATK’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.