An Orbital ATK employee inspects an Atlas V boat tail, the 500th large composite rocket structure produced at the company's Iuka, Mississippi, facility for United Launch Alliance launch vehicles. (Photo: Business Wire)
An Orbital ATK employee inspects an Atlas V boat tail, the 500th large composite rocket structure produced at the company's Iuka, Mississippi, facility for United Launch Alliance launch vehicles. (Photo: Business Wire)

US-based Orbital ATK Inc has produced its 500th large composite rocket structure for United Launch Alliance (ULA) launch vehicles. Since its establishment in 1998, the company’s manufacturing plant has produced 68 Atlas V, 28 Delta II and 404 Delta IV large composite structures across 106 ULA launches. The 500th structure is a boat tail manufactured for a ULA Atlas V launch vehicle.

 ‘This production milestone is a remarkable accomplishment and a very special occasion for all of us,’ said Steve Earl, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Aerospace Structures Division.

The large composite structures produced at the manufacturing facility based in Iuka Mississippi, measure 4–5 m in diameter and range from 1–19 m in length. The Orbital ATK facility uses advanced hand layup, fiber placement, machining and inspection techniques for production. The 320,000-ft2 plant houses one of the largest autoclaves in the world, measuring 20 ft in diameter by 83 ft in length.

The ULA Delta IV composite structures manufactured by Orbital ATK include nose cones and aero skirts, fairings, payload attach fittings and diaphragms, interstages, centerbodys and thermal shields. The structures manufactured for ULA Atlas V include heat shields, interstages and boat tails.

This story uses material from Orbital, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.