During recent Orbital ATK earnings calls, CEO Dave Thompson has mentioned one of the company’s top growth strategies for the next decade is developing and launching a new generation of intermediate- and large-class space launch vehicles. On April 3, the company shared more information about its Next Generation Launch (NGL) system in a press release and at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
As an intermediate- to large-class system, Orbital ATK’s NGL will be capable of launching national security payloads, as well as science and commercial satellites that are too large to be launched by Orbital ATK’s Pegasus, Minotaur and Antares space launch vehicles. Between 2015 and 2017 the combined investment in NGL between Orbital ATK and the Air Force is greater than $200 million.
The company currently has several hundred engineers and technicians working on the program who have achieved major milestones over the past 18 months, including completing successful Critical Design Reviews of the first and second stages and preliminary design of full vehicle and ground infrastructure. In addition, Orbital ATK has completely refurbished a production building, installed tooling, and manufactured prototype motor test articles. The company has an agreement with NASA to utilize the launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center, and it is working on west coast logistics.
Commonality with Orbital ATK’s other launch vehicles and related products programs means NGL doesn’t start from the drawing board—there are already skilled employees, existing facilities, supplier relationships and available subsystems for the vehicle’s development and production. Orbital ATK is confident that building on previous experience will reduce technical risk. Use of common systems will also help the company maintain affordable costs, even in years of low market demand. Additionally, current and future government programs will benefit from greater workforce efficiencies and improved supply chain economics that should save the government around $600 million during a ten-year period.
NGL is a great example of a new offering made possible by the merger of Orbital Sciences and ATK two years ago. The combined company is now doing something neither predecessor would have been capable of doing on its own, and all of its customers—government and commercial—will reap the benefits.More Information