[SatNews] ATK (NYSE: ATK) has successfully completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) with NASA to verify that the five-segment solid rocket booster is on track for an unmanned, first flight of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) in 2017.
The SLS vehicle is planned to launch humans deeper into space than ever before. With the successful completion of CDR, the SLS booster design can now proceed toward qualification testing. Booster avionics qualification efforts are also in work and will be incorporated into the vehicle qualification effort that is scheduled for completion in 2016. A ground static firing of the full-scale booster, Qualification Motor-1 (QM-1), is planned for late this year/early next year at ATK's facility in Promontory, Utah. The next major booster milestone will be the Design Certification Review scheduled for fall of 2016.
"Achieving this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for ATK and NASA as we continue building the boosters for America's Space Launch System," said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of ATK's Space Launch division. "Deep space exploration requires a heavy lift vehicle, and SLS is the only vehicle with the mass, volume and speed required for human missions to destinations such as the moon, an asteroid or Mars. ATK's technology innovation, process improvements and lean manufacturing will enable SLS to deliver humans and cargo to deep space faster, safer and more affordably than any other existing or planned vehicle. It is exciting to see that the teams working on SLS and the Orion crew capsule are all making steady progress toward NASA achieving a human mission to Mars by the 2030s."
Other upcoming SLS and Orion program milestones include a firing of the modified RS-25 engine this fall and the opening of the SLS Vertical Assembly Center, which is where the rocket's core stage fuel tanks will be welded. Orion's first flight, scheduled for December 2014, will be the farthest a human-rated spacecraft has traveled into space in more than 40 years. The SLS and Orion programs are supported by a network of hundreds of suppliers representing 47 states. ATK has 29 key SLS booster suppliers across 16 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
Recent SLS milestones include:
- Forward skirt test (May 20, 2014)
- Booster avionics test (April 3, 2014)
- Avionics and controls test (Dec. 11, 2013)
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