ATK has developed a complete commercial crew transportation system, including a spacecraft, abort system, launch vehicle, as well as ground and mission operations.
Dubbed Liberty, the space taxi could see its first test flight in 2014, a crewed flight in 2015 and a commercial flight to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2016.
“Our goal in providing Liberty is to build the safest and most robust system that provides the shortest time to operation using tested and proven human-rated components,” ATK rep Kent Rominger explained.
“Liberty will give the U.S. a new launch capability with a robust business case and a schedule that we expect will have us flying crews in just three years, ending our dependence on Russia [to supply the ISS]… [It] will [also] enable a successful commercial space program and result in a globally competitive capability that America doesn’t have today.”
As noted above, Liberty’s test flights are expected to begin in 2014, with a crewed mission anticipated in late 2015. The current schedule will support crewed missions for NASA and other potential customers by 2016, with a price-per-seat that is projected to be lower than the cost on the Russian Soyuz rocket.
According to Rominger, Liberty’s approach brings together flight-proven elements designed from inception to meet NASA’s human-rating requirement, reducing development time and costs, and providing known, reliable and safe systems. For example, the Liberty spacecraft builds on design work conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center on the composite crew module and launch abort system, for which ATK was a contractor.
“Because Liberty provides a safe and reliable vehicle for the crew, as well as a sustainable business for years to come, it can be a successful commercial business… Liberty’s business case benefits from mature, flight-proven elements that dramatically lower our up-front development costs,” Rominger added.