ATK Supports NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) Satellite ATK Approaching 20 Years of Support for Delta II Missions

Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) played a key role in the successful launch of United Launch Alliance’s Delta II rocket today from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., carrying the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite for NASA. The company provided solid rocket boosters and the composite payload fairing.

ATK manufactured the three, 40-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM), which are strap-on boosters that ignited with the Delta II first-stage main engine at liftoff. The boosters provided 336,000 pounds of maximum thrust helping carry the WISE satellite to its required orbit.

ATK manufactured the GEM-40 motors at its facility in Magna, Utah, continuing a tradition of flight support for Delta II missions that began in 1990. The composite cases for the GEM-40 boosters were produced at ATK’s Clearfield, Utah, facility and are made of graphite epoxy material using an automated filament winding process the company developed and refined through its 50-year heritage in composite manufacturing.

The 10-foot diameter composite payload fairing, encapsulating the payload, was fabricated by ATK’s Iuka, Miss., facility. The fairing was produced using advanced composite hand layup manufacturing, machining and inspection techniques. This was the 19th ATK-built fairing flown on a Delta II mission.
In addition, ATK Mission Operations in Pasadena, Calif., provided mission planning, sequence generation, and Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) ground station scheduling support for the mission. ATK’s flight controllers provided real-time monitoring and command during prelaunch, launch and post launch and will continue for the duration of the mission. WISE is the 5th mission ATK’s flight controllers support.

WISE is an infrared space telescope like two currently orbiting missions, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. But, unlike these missions, WISE will survey the entire sky. Millions of images from the survey will serve as rough maps for other observatories, such as Spitzer and NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, guiding them to intriguing targets.

The Jet Propulsion Lab manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA’s Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information is online at and

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