Alliant Techsystems helped launch NASA’s Deep Impact space probe on a journey to intercept the comet Tempel 1. The mission is designed to help uncover secrets about the origin of our universe.

The Deep Impact spacecraft was launched by a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. with the assistance of nine ATK GEM-40 solid propulsion strap-on boosters — continuing a tradition of flight support for Delta II missions that began in 1990.

Following burnout and separation of the GEM-40 boosters and the rocket’s liquid second stage, an ATK STAR(TM) 48B third-stage rocket motor propelled the spacecraft on its trajectory to the comet.

ATK composite technologies will play critical roles as the spacecraft makes its precision approach and encounter with the comet, planned for July 4, 2005. ATK designed and fabricated the composite structure that houses the high-resolution instrument, one of the largest imaging instruments ever built for an interplanetary mission. ATK also built the composite structure that houses the medium-resolution imager as well as the spacecraft’s instrument platform. The imaging equipment will capture data from the impact with the comet and transmit it back to earth for study in near real-time.

ATK also built the targeting sensor housing and the spectral imaging module bench on the impactor, which will slam into the comet to expose its interior structure and, hopefully, yield new clues about the origin of the universe.

ATK supplied the composite structures to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. They are working in association with the University of Maryland and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to develop and integrate the Flyby spacecraft, the Impactor spacecraft, and science instruments, including two telescopes, two cameras and a spectrometer for analyzing the interior of the comet. Deep Impact is the eighth mission in NASA’s Discovery Program, and the first mission to ever attempt impact with a comet nucleus in an effort to probe beneath its surface.

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ATK is a $2.4 billion advanced weapon and space systems company employing 13,800 people in 23 states. News and information can be found on the Internet at .