ATK Continues Development of Liberty Spacecraft
With the main responsibility for near-Earth space missions being delegated to the private sector, competition for contracts becomes important to drive innovation and lower costs. The SpaceX test launch to the International Space Station has been postponed till tomorrow and being aborted at the last second over the weekend. However, other companies are continuing to move forward with their own commercial rocket and/or spacecraft projects. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) is among them.
ATK is building a two-stage rocket, called Liberty, to launch satellites and crew alike into orbit. Rather than starting from zero, the company is working with a design that incorporates the solid fuel boosters from the U.S. space shuttle and the liquid fuel secondary booster from the European Ariane rocket system.
“Our goal in providing Liberty is to build the safest and most robust system that provides the shortest time to operation using tested and proven human-rated components,” said Kent Rominger, vice president and program manager for Liberty. “Liberty will give the U.S. a new launch capability with a robust business case and a schedule that we expect will have us flying crews in just three years, ending our dependence on Russia.”
Liberty has been designed to carry up to 44,500 lbs. of cargo to either service the ISS or launch new government satellites. The composite crew compartment is being built based on research conducted at NASA Langley Research Center and ATK will also be responsible for the Max Launch Abort System (MLAS). Other systems for Liberty will be provided through agreements with Lockheed Martin and Astrium.
Below you’ll find a short video about Liberty.