A United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV rocket was successfully launched into orbit on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying the GPS IIF-3 satellite. The goal of the flight is to improve GPS capabilities for our national defense and civilians around the world. ATK, an aerospace, defense and commercial products company based in Arlington, Va., supported the launch with composite and propulsion technologies.
ATK provided various composite components for the Delta IV medium-plus rocket, including two 60-inch diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) mounted on opposite sides of the rocket and composite cases for the motors. The cases were fabricated at the ATK Clearfield, Utah, facility and the motor was built at ATK’s facility in Magna, Utah. For the GPS IIF-3 satellite, ATK provided several products, including 12 satellite solar arrays made from composite substrates, antennas and titanium propellant tanks.
The launch vehicle for the Delta IV featured several key composite structures supplied by ATK, including the interstage that provides the interface between the Common Booster Core and the cryogenic second stage, a center body that integrates liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks, a thermal shield and a liquid oxygen skirt. All of the composite structures were produced using advanced hand layup, machining and inspection techniques at ATK’s manufacturing facility in Iuka, Miss.
The launch marks the 9th ULA launch this year, the 54th Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) mission and the 65th launch since ULA was formed nearly six years ago. ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V OTV-3 mission for the Air Force scheduled Oct. 25 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.