ATK has delivered a technological first to Nasa – a full-scale, composite crew module (CCM) structure.

The CCM programme is a joint initiative by Nasa’s Engineering and Safety Center, ATK and other industry partners. It considers a composite crew module an alternative to the baseline Orion spacecraft design.

The design comprises an upper and lower shell, which are joined together with a splice joint and cured using out-of-autoclave technology.

The CCM is a unique design built to resemble a space capsule, which has the potential to reduce the overall weight of future manned launch vehicles.

Composite structures reduce launch costs through weight savings and are currently used on a range of space launch vehicles and aerospace structures.

The design will undergo full-scale structural testing at Nasa’s Langley Research Center to determine the strength and viability of the composite structure.

During destructive testing, the CCM will be placed under load conditions similar to those experienced during launch, orbit, landing and abort scenarios.