A company alternately known to Utahns as Thiokol, Morton-Thiokol, ATK-Thiokol and now Orbital-ATK still maintains facilities at Promontory in northern Utah plus seven other locations across the state.
Before the company shared fault in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 — and since — it has undergone steady changes.
Mike Fuller, who works in business development for NASA programs at Orbital-ATK, said the company is developing boosters at the Propulsion Systems location at the Promontory facilities.
“We’re developing the boosters for NASA’s next generation human launch vehicle, space launch system. We are putting together a booster that is similar to what we did on the space shuttle but we’re making it bigger, with another segment. So it will be a five-segment solid rocket booster.”
The entire booster (including nose cap, frustum, and forward and aft skirts) will be approximately 177 feet long. Of the booster’s total weight of 1.6 million pounds, propellant accounts for 1.5 million pounds.
Fuller said it will put out about 3.5 million pounds of thrust at lift off and go for about 120 seconds before it gets jettisoned from the vehicle.
”We are looking forward to being an integral part of NASA’s work to put humans both into earth orbit as well as beyond that to the moon and hopefully, eventually, to Mars.”
Fuller said Orbital-ATK’s work is not limited to NASA contracts.
“That’s true. In combination with our other Propulsion Systems location down at Baccus in Magna, Utah, we employ about 2,100 people across a variety of different programs, both NASA’s as well as Air Force, Navy and Army programs.
“We are developing and utilizing our capabilities to provide all of our customers with cutting edge technologies for whatever the mission case may be.”
Fuller confirms most of their work deals with solid rocket boosters, but there is more.
“That’s where we have made our mark but we also do a variety of different products mostly in the defense world with regards to warhead production as well as to some UAV work, where we are working with the Army and the Air Force on a variety of different sizes of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.”