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Minuteman missile

Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has been awarded a contract to support the US Air Force’s (USAF) Peacekeeper and Minuteman solid rocket motors ageing surveillance and motor disposal initiatives.

Awarded by the USAF Space Development and Test Directorate (SDTD) as part of the Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP), the $81m contract features a one-year base performance period, and could possibly extend to November 2017, if all options are exercised.

Under the contract, the company will provide support services for the ongoing ageing surveillance for Peacekeeper and Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) rockets in the next year.

Specifically, the company will conduct basic annual efforts, such as monitoring of component dissection, motor plugging, propellant properties testing and hazards analysis, as well as overall programme support.

Additional responsibilities include special studies and efforts, including static test support, motor disposals and additional component development or testing on an as-required basis.

ATK Aerospace Group Air Force Programs vice president Lamberth Blalock said: "This award expands our RSLP role to include Minuteman Stage II efforts for the first time."

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ATK spokeswoman Hillary Searle said an average service life of a motor ranges from 25 years to 50 years, depending on its application, and can be appropriately determined through the ageing and surveillance programme. ATK has been providing support services for the RSLP’s solid rocket motor propulsion efforts since 1997.

RSLP programme is responsible for delivering suborbital launch capability, including mission planning, booster refurbishment, range support, launch services and post flight analysis for various US Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE) and Nasa organisations.

Work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out at the company’s facilities in Box Elder County and in Magna, US.

Image: Minuteman III missile inside a silo. Photo courtesy of Fastfission.

Defence Technology