Wednesday, May 09, 2012

ATK announces the details of their Liberty rocket

(via Space.com)

ParabolicArc provided the following synopsis of the announcement.  Clark Lindsey has now posted the press release.

Kent Rominger, VP, Strategy and Business — Space Launch Systems, ATK
ATK has a complete system now….
  • Composite Crew module that Langely was working on — alternative to aluminum capsule — essentially a scaled down Orion MPCV — heat shield not as strong (not coming back from the moon)
  • Service module — a modified version of what has been developed for Orion MPCV
  • Abrt system — Max Launch abort system — been tested once.
  • Lockheed now a major subcontractor on the team
Rapid execution — 2015 is when I’m going to fly crew

Our system is the safest system ever designed to fly humans into space
We have a robust business case
We are extremely competitive — been working very hard on it….

Unprecedented solution that will be here a long time

Starting out with a system that is designed for crew — can take out redundant systems for satellite launches

Don’t need all the capability of the rocket for crew system — can carry extra fuel for station reboost, unpressurized cargo….

Baseline is a water landing — need to be able to land in the water in the event of an abort

Contingency for landing on ground — not as good for reusing spacecraft

Progress to date:
  • Composite crew fabricated and tested, including burst test
  • water drop tests validated recovery concepts
  • successfully completed acoustic testing
  • crew member flight suit evaluation completed
  • service module design and optimized for ISS crew and cargo delivery
  • Pusher abort system called Max Launch Abort System developed by NASA and industry
  • NASA Wallops completed successful pad abort test
  • solid propulsion main engines and jettison motor
Crew training starts at T minus 3 to 6 months — will make the system as user friendly as possible
  • Liberty is being designed from start for human crew launches…trajectory will allow crew to survive a failure
  • Other rockets have black zones in their trajectories where the crew will not survive even with an abort system
Solid Rocket booster flew 110 times after Challenger without a problem — learned from mistake, makes the rocket the most reliable rocket in world

Astrium’s John Schumacher

  • Ariane 5 has flown 47 times successfully
  • Liberty uses Ariane 5 first stage
  • Stage needs to be strengthened and modified for air launch — work is underway
  • Stage now made in Europe — eventual plans are to bring production to the United States
  • Proven experience of ATK, Lockheed and Astrium greatly helps with process, launching and operations
  • Astrium brings expertise in launching and docking ATV at ISS — helpful in docking crew vehicle
  • 10 flights for reuse with water landing