The rocket launched NASA’s InSight lander on its 300-million-mile journey to Mars to study the planet’s crust, mantle and core. Orbital ATK provided advanced hardware from across the country to the both ULA Atlas V launch vehicle and the InSight lander.
InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will arrive at the red planet this November. By studying Mars’ interior structure, InSight will help answer key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our solar system, including Earth.
“Orbital ATK is proud to support the Atlas V rocket and InSight lander with our technologies,” said Mark Pieczynski, Vice President of Business Development for Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “To support future deep space missions, we are working on the boosters for NASA’s Space Launch System, which will enable human exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.”
For the ULA Atlas V rocket, Orbital ATK produced the 10-foot diameter composite heat shield, which provides higher performance with lower weight, and essential protection for the first stage engine of the launch vehicle from engine exhaust temperatures in excess of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Technicians fabricated the assembly using advanced fiber placement manufacturing techniques at the company’s Iuka, Mississippi, facility.
Orbital ATK manufactured the reaction control system propellant tank for the ULA Atlas V at its Commerce, California facility. In addition, eight Orbital ATK retro motors manufactured in Elkton, Maryland, supported separation of the spent first stage.
For the InSight lander, Orbital ATK manufactured the cruise stage heat pipes and instrument heat pipes in Beltsville, Maryland; the diaphragm tanks in Commerce, California; and a two-wing, light weight Ultraflex Solar Array assembly in Goleta, California. Orbital ATK also built for the Ultraflex Solar Arrays used in the successful Mars Phoenix Lander mission that launched in 2007.
Companies: Northrop Grumman