Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Orbital ATK Plans Next Generation Launcher Debut in 3 Years

Orbital ATK is preparing for the next phase of development for their Next Generation Launcher (NGL) – a solid and liquid fueled rocket designed for National Security, NASA science missions, and commercial flights. Under the current plan, Orbital ATK intends to introduce NGL from LC-39B at the Kennedy Space Center, FL, with certification flights in early 2021, with operational flights set to begin later that year.

NGL aims for debut in three years:

The progeny of NGL can be traced back to 2004, when then U.S. President George W. Bush announced the Constellation program, consisting of the crew launch vehicle known as Ares I – a five-segment Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) rocket, atop which sat a Liquid Oxygen/Liquid Hydrogen (LOX/LH2) upper stage.

A test flight variant of Ares I, known as Ares I-X, completed a successful test flight on 29 October 2009, shortly after which the Constellation program was cancelled by then U.S. President Barack Obama in favor of developing a more robust rocket that could carry both crew and cargo, the SLS, to locations Beyond Low Earth Orbit and shifting International Space Station crew rotation missions from NASA-made rockets to commercial rockets and capsules – a goal SpaceX and Boeing plan to fulfill.

Despite the Constellation program’s cancellation, Orbital ATK, the predecessor of which would have built the five-segment SRB for Ares I and the company that is now building the five-segment dual SRBs for SLS, continued to see a usefulness for the overall Ares I design. This initially translated in 2011 to the Liberty rocket, a five-segment SRB first stage with an Ariane V core serving as the upper stage.


addendum: the new rocket is called the OmegA.

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