Boeing has awarded a contract to Alliant Techsystems (ATK), a supplier of aerospace and defence products, to manufacture the upper stage ullage motors for Nasa’s two-stage rocket Ares I.

The rocket will take astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft on missions to the International Space Station, the moon, Mars and out into the solar system.

ATK will provide motors for the design, development, test and evaluation phase, and the initial flights, as per the contract.

The company will integrate four pairs of ullage motors in the Ares I upper stage, which houses the reaction control system.

The newly equipped motors will provide acceleration of the upper stage during stage separation from the Ares I stage and will assist in the separation of the two stages by providing continuous liquid flow to the main engines.