/ Modified mar 9, 2018 9:57 a.m.

Heavy Rocket to Propel Chandler-Based Operation Into New Market

Private Orbital ATK moving into higher orbits, heavier satellites and, possibly, human missions.

NGL Rocket An artist's rendition of Orbital ATK's Next Generation Rocket in flight. (PHOTO: Courtesy Orbital ATK)

Last month, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket made headlines as the first privately built heavy-lift rocket to enter space. Now, Orbital ATK's Chandler-based Launch Vehicle Division plans to join them.

Adding a heavy lifter to its stable of small and medium commercial and defense rockets will enable Orbital to compete in a new market, one that handles higher orbiting communications satellites, heavier spy satellites and, potentially, human missions to space.

Employing 200 engineers and technicians in Arizona and Utah, the $200 million (and counting) program is in the design, testing and retooling phases.

When finished, Orbital's rocket will carry national security satellites for the U.S. Air Force in lieu of a red Tesla Roadster.

Orbital atk rockets view larger VIEW LARGER A comparison of ATK's Next Generation Launcher with other rockets shows it is larger than medium-heavy vehicles like Atlas V, but smaller than other heavy-class rockets like SpaceX's Falcon Heavy. (PHOTO: Courtesy Orbital ATK)
Arizona Science Desk
This story is from the Arizona Science Desk, a collaborative of the state's public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Arizona Science Desk.
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