Interstage Adaptor Debuts on Atlas 5’s Intelsat-14 Launch

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The Nov. 23 Atlas 5 launch of the Intelsat-14 commercial telecommunications satellite featured the first use of a new version of an interstage adaptor developed by Ruag Space of Switzerland.

Zurich-based Ruag said the 720-kilogram cylindrical adaptor, which is 4.2 meters tall and between 3 meters and 3.8 meters in diameter, will gradually replace the current adaptors used on the Atlas 5-400 vehicle. Ruag is under contract to Denver-based United Launch Alliance to provide 15 such adaptors and will be shipping, on average, three units per year. The company has been supplying payload fairings for the larger Atlas 5-500 rocket since 2003 under a separate contract.

The interstage adaptor is an aluminum honeycomb core with a carbon-fiber exterior that connects the Atlas core booster stage with the upper stage. It is separated from the upper stage about four minutes after liftoff.

“Our involvement in the European space program has enabled us to acquire enough expertise to successfully pursue additional projects in the non-European arena,” Ruag Space Switzerland Director Axel Deich said in a Nov. 23 statement.