Main Engine Cut Off

Orbital ATK’s Next-Generation Composite Case Passes Structural Acceptance Test

The company is in early production of development hardware for its Next Generation Launch (NGL) system, and on October 27 successfully completed the structural acceptance test on the first motor high-strength composite case for this program.

The applied structural loads during the test demonstrated over 110 percent of maximum expected motor operating pressure and 110 percent of operational/flight and pre-launch compressive/tensile line loads. This full-scale motor case segment will be cast with inert solid rocket propellant in early 2018 and shipped to the launch site for check-out of ground operations.

The conceit of this press release is that the case is specifically for the Next Generation Launch system, but it’s also for SLS. SLS will debut with Shuttle-derived 5-segment boosters, but as plans currently stand, will move to upgraded boosters after a few flights.

And right now, the odds-on favorite for that booster is Orbital ATK’s Castor 1200.

The commonality between future SLS boosters and an EELV-class launch vehicle built by a company who the US Department of Defense would very much like to keep around and making solid rockets is exactly why I wouldn’t be surprised to see NGL chosen in the upcoming Launch Services Agreements awards.

Update: some great photos posted on Twitter by Orbital ATK.