by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral AFS FL (SPX) Jan 19, 2012
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying the Wideband Global SATCOM-4 (WGS-4) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 Thursday evening y at 7:38 p.m. EST. This is ULA's first launch of the year and marked the 18th launch of the Delta IV vehicle.
"We are honored to have worked closely with our Air Force and mission partners to enable the successful launch of the WGS-4 satellite. WGS-4 will provide important capabilities to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines protecting our freedoms around the world," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations.
"This mission begins the most aggressive launch campaign in the history of the EELV program, with nine national security and two NASA launches scheduled this year."
This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus configuration vehicle using a ULA single common booster core powered by a Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine, along with four Alliant Techsystems GEM 60 solid rocket motors.
The five-meter diameter upper stage was powered by a PWR RL10B-2 engine with the satellite encapsulated in a five-meter diameter composite payload fairing.
"WGS was the first of the new constellation of satellites to integrate and launch on both the Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles - the first two on Atlas and now, with WGS-4, the second one on our Delta IV launch system," said Sponnick.
"Our ability to integrate and launch satellites successfully and efficiently on two launch systems to provide operational flexibility was a primary reason that ULA was formed."
Wideband Global SATCOM provides anytime, anywhere communication for the warfighter through broadcast, multicast, and point to point connections. WGS is the only military satellite communications system that can support simultaneous X and Ka band communications.
ATK Technologies Support Launch of ULA's Delta IV Rocket Carrying WGS-4
This was the second time the Delta IV medium-plus rocket featured four ATK 60-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM). The 53-foot-long motors were mounted in pairs on opposing sides of the rocket, with one fixed and one vectorable nozzle per side. They burned for 90 seconds and provided more than 1.1 million pounds of thrust to deliver the WGS-4 satellite to its determined orbit.
The composite cases, nose cones and aeroskirts for the GEM motors were fabricated at ATK's Clearfield, Utah facility. The solid rocket motors were produced at its Magna, Utah facility. ATK has manufactured 51 GEM-60 boosters for the Delta IV launch vehicle since the initial flight in 2002
The nozzle for Delta IV's RS-68 engine was designed and manufactured at ATK's Promontory, Utah facility. The Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne-built RS-68 is the largest hydrogen-fueled engine in the world.
ATK also designed and produced the nozzle's thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding the nozzle from the extreme heat of launch when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 degrees F.
In total, ATK supplied nine key composite structures for the Delta IV medium-plus launch vehicle. The structures are five meters in diameter and range from one to fifteen meters in length.
They are produced using advanced hand layup and machining and inspection techniques at ATK's manufacturing facilities in Iuka, Miss., and Clearfield, Utah.
ATK also provided the propellant tank for the Delta IV upper stage roll control system. The tanks were manufactured at ATK's Commerce, Calif. facility.
The WGS-4 mission will be the fourth satellite of the WGS system that provides flexible, high-capacity communications for the nation's warfighters.
WGS supports the defense communications system, the U.S. Army's ground mobile forces, U.S. Air Force airborne terminals, U.S. Navy ships at sea, the White House Communications Agency, the U.S. State Department, and other special users. WGS provides an order of magnitude increase in military communications' increased bandwidth, providing high data rate and long-haul communications for marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen worldwide.
Rocketdyne Engines Help Power Wideband Global SATCOM Into Orbit
The mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV medium rocket with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68 and RL10B-2 engines providing the booster and upper-stage propulsion, respectively. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.
"This launch was another impressive demonstration of the RS-68 booster engine in action, with more than 700,000 pounds of thrust boosting this vehicle and its important military payload into space," said Dan Adamski, RS-68 program manager, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.
"The RL10B-2 engine once again delivered dependable 100 percent mission success and reliability. The RL10 team is proud to enable the deployment of this vital communications satellite for U.S. military forces," said Christine Cooley, RL10 program manager, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.
"These two engines are a winning combination in consistency for our customers, and we look forward to working together on future missions."
The WGS satellites are part of a larger system that increases military communications capabilities for U.S. and alliance forces deployed worldwide. They help support the exchange of information, execution of tactical command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The RS-68 is the world's largest hydrogen-fueled engine, designed for heavy lift with 758,000 pounds of vacuum thrust and 663,000 pounds of sea-level thrust. The RL10B-2 is a unique cryogenic upper-stage engine that provides 465 seconds of specific impulse and 24,750 pounds of thrust.
Aerojet Propulsion Helps Deliver Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM Spacecraft
Aerojet's 12 reaction control thrusters provided roll, pitch and yaw control during ascent of United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Delta IV upper stage.
The WGS satellite will also rely on Aerojet propulsion with the company's 100-lbf bipropellant apogee engine being utilized to deliver the spacecraft to its final geosynchronous orbit. All WGS spacecraft have used Aerojet's apogee engine for transfer to orbit.
"We value the important partnership that we have with the Air Force and understand the criticality of upgrading the military's main communications infrastructure," said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet vice president of Space and Launch Systems.
"Aerojet propulsion is trusted to perform for a variety of Department of Defense programs and we're pleased to help deliver mission success for the Air Force with WGS."
Aerojet's Redmond, Wash. team designed, developed and manufactured the Delta IV upper stage reaction control thrusters, as well as the WGS apogee engine. The Delta IV thrusters were delivered to ULA and the bipropellant apogee engine to The Boeing Company.
Every Delta IV mission to date has used Aerojet propulsion to help launch a variety of satellites for military and commercial customers.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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Stratolaunch Systems Announces Ground Breaking At Mojave
Huntsville, AL (SPX) Jan 20, 2012
Stratolaunch Systems announced Friday the ground breaking on a production facility and hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Stratolaunch Systems, founded by Paul G. Allen, is a private aerospace development company that will construct a one-of-a-kind composite aircraft for launching medium class payloads to space. The construction of these facilities will be performed by the Bake ... read more
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