Orbital ATK has started production work on development hardware for its large- and intermediate-class family of space launch vehicles.
Orbital ATK said Monday its Next Generation Launch family of rockets is designed to launch commercial, national security and scientific satellites that are too huge to fly aboard the company's Antares, Pegasus and Minotaur space vehicles.
The company has equipped a 60,000-square-foot facility with cranes and automated tooling equipment to facilitate the production of large-diameter rocket motors and has concluded design reviews for components of its solid rocket propulsion systems in the past 18 months as part of its NGL program.
The Dulles, Virginia-based aerospace and defense contractor used internal investments and funds from a 2015 contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force's space and missile systems center to support such activities as well as the production of motor test prototypes for use in verification tests in the summer of 2017.
Scott Lehr, president of flight systems group at Orbital ATK, said the company aims to provide a new space launch system for the Air Force and other government agencies in the next four years through the NGL program.
Orbital ATK plans to begin launch site and full vehicle development work at its facilities in Utah, Arizona, Florida and Mississippi, once it secures launch services contracts from the Air Force by 2018.