Monday, January 23, 2012

ATK Liberty Meets Crew Development Milestone

Another milestone has been reached on the road to developing a commercial crew transportation system, as Utah based Alliant Techsystems, Inc. (ATK) and their Liberty Transportation System has successfully passed a critical review as a partner in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Round 2 program.

ATK is an unfunded participant in the program under an agreement with NASA that allows the space agency and the company to share technical information during the preliminary design review phase of the program. Under the agreement ATK must meet five milestones, and the latest review was the third to be completed.

The Liberty system is derived from the now-defunct Ares design, and utilizes a derivative of the space shuttle’s solid rocket booster as a first stage engine along with an engine developed from the European Ariane 5 launcher as the second stage. ATK is a partner with the European space developer Astrium. The company anticipates achieving a first flight in 2013, with a successful crew launch capability in 2015.

According to the website

“This unfunded partnership with ATK on its Liberty systems brings expertise from around the globe and we are glad to contribute our more than 50 years of human spaceflight experience to this effort,” said Ed Mango, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager.

During the ISD, Liberty team members from ATK, its European-based partner, Astrium, and their subcontractors presented the status of Liberty’s system level requirements, preliminary design and certification process to representatives from the Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and other NASA centers.

“With the SAA in place we have been able to work closely with NASA’s Commercial Program and receive valuable feedback as we develop the Liberty Transportation System,” said Kent Rominger, ATK vice president and program manager for Liberty. “We continued to develop Liberty with the goal of providing the safest, most reliable, cost-effective and capable launch vehicle for crew transport.”

The current SAA continues through at least March. The two milestones met earlier include a Requirements Status Briefing and a Technical Interchange Meeting for the Liberty Transportation System. Two additional milestones are scheduled to be completed under this SAA.

All of NASA’s industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities that will ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station, reducing the amount of time America is without its own system.

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