Atlas V

US-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) has chosen Orbital ATK to provide solid rocket boosters for its Atlas V and upcoming Vulcan launch systems.

Orbital ATK will start developing the new solid rocket boosters immediately, to be ready for ULA’s Atlas V vehicle in late 2018.

Ddevelopment of solid boosters for ULA’s Vulcan vehicle will be completed in 2019.

Under the deal, Orbital ATK will design and develop two new, low-cost rocket motors using its own solid motor technology. The motors will be support ULA’s Atlas V and Vulcan vehicles launches.

They will also be commercially available to other customers.

ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno said: "We have relied for decades on Orbital ATK’s industry leading rocket motor technology, which is ideally suited to support our future rocket launch plans."

"Our ability to deliver critical national security, scientific and commercial satellites into the correct orbit for each mission is filled with risks and challenges, and ULA has delivered every time.

"This reliability will continue as we develop the right vehicle with the right team."

ULA expects to transform the government and commercial space launch market with its next-generation, low-cost launch vehicle, Vulcan.

"ULA and Orbital ATK will offer customers better value and reliable access to space."

Orbital ATK president and CEO David W Thompson said: "With this strategic partnership, ULA and Orbital ATK will offer customers better value and reliable access to space.

"The capabilities and technology of the newly merged Orbital ATK enabled us to expand the partnership with ULA to help lower costs and maintain the highest standards of mission assurance."

ULA and Orbital ATK have already shared partnership in supply of composite structures, nozzles, propellant tanks and booster separation motors for the current versions of Delta IV and Atlas V rockets.

Later this year and next year, ULA will also supply two Atlas rockets to launch Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft on cargo delivery missions to the international space station for Nasa.

Currently, Orbital ATK is developing a fully integrated third-stage to launch Nasa’s Solar Probe Plus mission on ULA’s Delta IV Heavy rocket in 2018.

Image: An Atlas V rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral with the GPS IIF-10 mission. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance, LLC.