BRIGHAM CITY, Utah — When the Space Shuttle Discovery was successfully launched in NASA’s “Shuttle Return to Flight” mission recently, it was thanks in part to Kenworth C500 trucks operated by ATK Thiokol.
For over 25 years, ATK Thiokol has built the massive, reusable solid rocket motors (RSRMs) that have launched astronauts into space from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Kenworth C500s enter the picture whenever the reusable solid rocket motor segments need to be transported for testing and other work around ATK Thiokol’s major facilities in Utah. They cover a six per cent grade en route to the test area and also receive the heavy task of delivering the motor segments to a railroad spur 20 miles away for transport to the launch site.
“We have an important mission at ATK Thiokol as part of America’s space shuttle program,” said Neil Christensen, major subcontract administrator for ATK Thiokol. “To help accomplish our mission and meet NASA’s schedule, we need trucks that are reliable and get the job done, no matter how big the job.”
ATK Thiokol recently put into service a new Kenworth C500 built by Kenworth’s manufacturing plant in Renton, Wash. The company’s latest C500 includes a Caterpillar C15, 475 hp engine with a torque of 1,650 ft.-lb. at 1,200 rpm, 230-inch wheelbase, 150,000 lb. rear axles with 18.81 ratio, 7-speed transmission, and top speed of 26 mph. That truck joined another Kenworth C500 used by ATK Thiokol since 1997.
“We worked closely with Kenworth’s application engineers to design and spec our latest C500,” Christensen said. “We especially got assistance from Kenworth on startability, the 150,000-pound rear axle setup, and ensuring that the C500 could go up that six per cent grade at a speed as low as two miles per hour. Kenworth helped us put together the right truck for our extremely demanding application.”
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