Author Topic: Orbital ATK Awarded Major Sounding Rocket Contract By NASA  (Read 2203 times)

Offline jacqmans

  • Moderator
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17079
  • Houten, The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2809
  • Likes Given: 178
Orbital ATK Awarded Major Sounding Rocket Contract By NASA


Company to Continue as Prime Contractor for U.S. Space Agency’s Suborbital Research Rocket Program

Dulles, Virginia 7 April 2016 – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that it was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as the prime contractor for the NASA Sounding Rockets Operations Contract III (NSROC III) program. The award is a one-year base contract with four one-year option periods and is valued at approximately $200 million. Orbital ATK won the new contract in an open competition and has served as the prime contractor on the program since 2010. During that time, the company supported 94 sounding rocket launches and set the record for 41 consecutive successful missions, the most in the 57-year history of the program. Sounding rockets are used to conduct suborbital missions for scientific and atmospheric research.

Under the NSROC III program, which is centered at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Orbital ATK’s Technical Services division will plan, coordinate and carry out suborbital research rocket missions from locations in the United States and around the world. The Orbital ATK team will also work with the NASA Sounding Rockets program to develop and implement additional capabilities.

“We are honored to continue our legacy of support to NASA’s sounding rocket program under NSROC III,” said John Pullen, Vice President and General Manager, Technical Services Division of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group. “We have partnered with NASA and the Wallops Flight Facility team for many years both as a subcontractor and prime contractor under NSROC I and NSROC II. Our proven capability in executing successful missions will help ensure that NASA retains its position as the world leader in sounding rocket technology and suborbital space and Earth science research.”


Orbital ATK and its teammates expect to employ technical and administrative staff at Wallops Flight Facility and White Sands Missile Range over the term of the contract. Orbital ATK’s teammates include three small businesses: LJT and Associates, Inc., the Hammers Company, and Hawk Institute for Space Sciences.

In addition to NSROC III, the company supports another high-altitude scientific research program for NASA. Orbital ATK is the prime contractor for the NASA Balloon Operations contract, which is administered by the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility and is managed from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) in Palestine, Texas. The CSBF staff has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons from seven countries in the past 35 years.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27766
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7659
  • Likes Given: 5099
That means sounding rockets are still quite expensive, significantly more than $1 million per launch. And note that most of the trajectories are much higher than something like New Shepherd does with its capsule.

That said, I really hope the next round will look hard at including reusable suborbital vehicles. Especially since recovery of payloads is pretty much included. But the suborbital reusable vehicles are not quite mature nor high performance enough for these missions.

But $200 million is quite a chunk of change, half that amount could sustain a small fleet of such reusable suborbital vehicles when and if they become capable of the sort of trajectories these sounding rockets typically do.

A couple projects I'm working with will be flying parts or payloads on these sounding rockets at Wallops.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 986
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 455
  • Likes Given: 209
I think part of the problem is the low-ish flight rate resulting in a larger part of the contract just going to keeping all the lights on. I think a lot of the payloads that are suited to suborbitals have been flying on Shuttle or ISS the past 35 years. We may see more of a boom in the suborbital/small launcher market after ISS, which will also hopefully improve the per flight cost as well.

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 981
  • Likes Given: 343
So whatever happened to NASA suborbital flight opportunities program?

https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov

And what's the relation between existing sounding rocket programs and contracts vs this supposed suborbital flight opportunity thing?
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2883
  • Liked: 646
  • Likes Given: 358
That means sounding rockets are still quite expensive, significantly more than $1 million per launch. And note that most of the trajectories are much higher than something like New Shepherd does with its capsule.

Over $10M/launch average based on contract award and projected manifest (~18/yr).  There is a lot of GFE and overhead which is not included in the contract value.  You would need to dig into NASA budget details to get a more accurate estimate of launch costs (none of which are publicly available to any level of detail).

I think part of the problem is the low-ish flight rate resulting in a larger part of the contract just going to keeping all the lights on.

Yup.  Wallops, White Sands, Poker Flat, Andoya, Kwajalein, Woomera, ... plus a couple mobile launchers and 12+(?) rockets or distinct configurations at last count.

But as Chris said, many of these launches go places other suborbital programs don't reach (location or altitude).  Such is the price of diversity.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2016 09:37 PM by joek »

Offline joek

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2883
  • Liked: 646
  • Likes Given: 358
And what's the relation between existing sounding rocket programs and contracts vs this supposed suborbital flight opportunity thing?

NASA Sounding Rocket Operations (NSRO) is kinda-sorta-like NASA Launch Services (NLS).  They are similar in that their primary focus is launch services.  They are different in that NSRO has a sole provider (Orbital-ATK) and more government furnished equipment (GFE).  The suborbital flight opportunity program is broader-based and includes payloads.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2016 10:52 PM by joek »

Tags: