Kent Rominger, ATK Liberty Launch Vehicle, Sunday, 8-14-11 August 14, 2011Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.
Kent Rominger, ATK Liberty Launch Vehicle, Sunday, 8-14-11
Guest: Kent Rominger. Topics: The ATK Liberty Launch Vehicle, human spaceflight development and safety issues. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Kent Rominger of ATK Aerospace Systems and the Program Manager for the Liberty Launch Vehicle to the program. Co-hosting with me on the technical side of things was Dr. John Jurist. As Dr. Jurist and I were in Logan, Utah for the 25th Annual Small Sat Conference, we arranged to sit down with Mr. Rominger at ATK offices in Promontory, UT to talk about the Liberty Launch Vehicle. We thank Trina Patterson, Director of Media Relations at ATK for her assistance in setting up this interview. During our hour long discussion, Mr. Rominger introduced us to the Liberty Launch Vehicle with the European Astrium second stage. We talked about the ITAR issues working with Astrium and spent some time discussing the pros and cons of using a solid rocket booster (SRB) for human spaceflight (HSF) over a liquid rocket motor. Many people in various segments of the space community believe that SRBs are not safe for HSF so Dr. Jurist and I explored this issue in depth with our guest. Listen carefully, you might be surprised to hear what Kent had to say about this and the data he referenced in support of his statements. We talked about the need for heavy lift, the use of a Space Act Agreement (SAA) rather than the Federal Acquisition Rules (FAR), and commercial as compared to public financing of launch vehicles and space hardware. Kent, having been a Navy fighter pilot, a Space Shuttle commander on several missions, had much to say about flight and vehicle safety. We talked about escape and ejection and why solid rocket motors are the preferred device for ejection seats. Since this interview, I have seen an August 12, 2011 press story reporting that NASA is considering testing a liquid rocket engine for the MPCV escape system (www.examiner.com/dc-in-washington-dc/nasa-considers-liquid-rocket-engine-for-mpcv-escape-system). We also spent considerable time going over the economics and the business case for Liberty, its market and potential customers, comparing its payload of 44,000 lbs. to LEO with competing rockets. If you have comments or questions about this discussion, post them on the blog URL above. If you want to email Mr. Rominger, send it to me and I will forward it to him over at ATK.