IUKA — Alliant Techsystems (ATK) played a key role in the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket for NASA from Space Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., carrying the Missile Defense Agency’s Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstrators Program satellite.
Nine ATK GEM-40 solid propulsion strap-on boosters provided augmented thrust for the launch. Six of the boosters ignited at lift-off with the first-stage main engine and provided over 824,000 pounds maximum thrust for the launch vehicle. Just over one minute later, the remaining three boosters ignited to provide an additional 427,000 pounds maximum thrust. The spent motors were then jettisoned from the rocket as it continued its ascent.
ATK manufactured the GEM-40 motors at its facility in Magna, Utah, continuing a tradition of flight support for Delta II missions that began in 1990. The composite cases for the GEM-40 boosters were produced at ATK’s Clearfield, Utah, facility and are made of graphite epoxy material using an automated filament winding process the company developed and refined through its 50-year heritage in composite manufacturing.
The 10-foot diameter composite payload fairing, encapsulating the payload, was fabricated by ATK’s Iuka facility. The fairing was produced using advanced composite hand layup manufacturing, machining, and inspection techniques. This launch marks the 17th ATK built fairing flown on a Delta II mission.