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Satnews Daily
June 21st, 2017

Orbital ATK's Latest Milestone Completes Critical Components in NASA's Orion Launch Abort System

Recently we reported that Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) completed a physical review of all test hardware and an analysis of all test data to confirm that the improvements performed as expected. Now they've announced completion of an analysis of the critical components demonstrated in the Orion Launch Abort System Attitude Control Motor (ACM) test conducted at the company’s Elkton, Maryland, facility.  Results from the test indicate the motor’s HT-11 ‘High Thrust’ test was fully successful. 

The launch abort motor for NASA's Orion spacecraft fires in its first qualification test on June 15, 2017.

The ACM consists of a solid propellant gas generator and eight equally-spaced valves capable of providing 7,000 lbs. of thrust in any direction. The HT-11 test used a three-valve version of the ACM to verify the latest design improvements. This key milestone clears the way for the ACM to enter into the qualification phase of the program. Three qualification units will undergo additional static testing in 2018 and 2019, also at Orbital ATK’s controllable propulsion center of excellence in Elkton.  

The launch abort system (LAS), which is being developed by Lockheed Martin for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, will protect the astronaut crew on the launch pad and during ascent. Orion is being built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. NASA is building a flexible, reusable and sustainable capability and infrastructure beyond the moon that will last multiple decades and support missions of increasing complexity. Orbital ATK is providing key propulsion subsystems for the LAS, including an advanced ACM to safely control the LAS during the main abort phase and to reposition the capsule for descent and parachute release.

Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill said that for decades, Orbital ATK has been an important component of Maryland’s thriving aerospace industry and of America’s accomplishments in space. This collaboration between NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Orbital ATK not only illustrates the strength of aerospace in Maryland, but also advances space exploration far beyond their horizon.

Founded in 1948, the 550-acre facility employs more than 400 employees, principally engaged in engineering and manufacturing, and is recognized as an AIAA Historic Aerospace Site.