Orbital ATK has received a contract from the U.S. Air Force to build an evolved expendable launch vehicle designed to transport and field small satellites and other payloads.
The contract with the Air Force Space and Missiles Center covers the development of the initial Long Duration Propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter platform and includes options for two additional LDPE systems, Orbital ATK said Monday.
The company will use its ESPAStar system to design and produce the LDPE platform that is located between the primary space vehicle and the launch booster.
ESPAStar is based on the firm's ESPA Augmented Geostationary Laboratory Experiment and is designed to take off from any launch vehicle that complies with the standard EELV interface specification.
The modular platform also works to provide telemetry, power and command-and-control functionalities for attached small satellites and is built to deploy up to 12 free-flyer separate payloads or six hosted payloads to geosynchronous or low Earth orbit.
Mike Larkin, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK's satellite systems division, said the GEOStar-based ESPAStar is designed to provide secondary payloads a flexible access to space.