Monday, March 17, 2014

ATK Rocket Display

As we were driving toward Promontory Summit, we saw several signs with pictures of rockets and "ATK" on them. We wondered if we were near some sort of explosives or rocket factory, but we'd never heard of ATK and didn't see anything that looked recognizable. We thought no more of it until we were driving back from the Golden Spike historic site, and Sebby said, "Look at that long white rocket!" I was not inclined to believe there would be such a thing, out in the middle of the desert, but after we went around a few more bends in the road, there it was! Something long, white, and pointy. We decided we had to go investigate.

It wasn't difficult to find, as there were road signs that said "Rocket Display--2 miles." We just followed them and soon arrived at a large, office-building-y facility, with a bunch of rockets strewn around in front. We parked in visitor parking and went to look around. The rockets and motor casings all have signs in front of them, and helpful diagrams showing you which components they are. It was awesome! 
It was so windy and there were tumbleweeds everywhere! We passed a million of them on the road.

Later I mentioned this place to a couple people, who both said, "Oh, Thiokol?" in a knowledgable way. Which I'd never heard of either, but I guess that's its parent company, or what it used to be called, or something. ATK stands for Alliant Techsystems, apparently, and they have several facilities in Utah. What we had run into was the ATK Propulsion Systems facility. It's nice of them to put out their rockets for people to look at, way out there in the middle of nowhere! The other thing you should do while in the area, I've heard, is look at the Spiral Jetty (if it's not underwater, that is). But we didn't do it, regrettably.
Patriot Missile
Motor casing
And our very favorite (Malachi was ecstatic to see this in person!)---the reusable solid rocket motor. (This picture shows the exit cone.) This is one of the motors that goes on the outside of the space shuttle, like this:
It was so enormous! We loved it. And it was the perfect place to eat our lunch. :)

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