Recently, NASA astronaut and Naval Captain Barry “Butch” Wilmore visited Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Bacchus facilities in Utah. Captain Wilmore returned to Earth in March after commanding the International Space Station for six months, and has flown both Space Shuttle and Russian Soyuz vehicles. Captain Wilmore toured operations and office facilities and met with team members, learning about Orbital ATK’s Utah operations supporting the NASA Space Launch System and Orion Launch Abort System, including hardware processing and facility capabilities.

Orbital ATK employees were fortunate to hear directly what it’s like to reenter the atmosphere in a Soyuz capsule (it’s hot, shaky, and the landing is rough). Captain Wilmore talked about the experience of launching on the Space Shuttle—on the boosters that our employees helped build.

During his visit, Captain Wilmore presented the coveted Silver Snoopy award—a personal award from the astronauts themselves—to Orbital ATK employee Dr. Will Garrett in recognition of his outstanding and crucial contributions to the Space Launch System (SLS) booster motor insulation-propellant void anomaly investigation team. 

Dr. Garrett’s team spent months of intensive root cause investigation and corrective action determination that enabled the SLS program to solve a serious production problem with a new propellant-liner-insulation design. Thanks to their efforts, Orbital ATK has produced six consecutive SLS Booster segments with the lowest associated defect rate in over 30 years of NASA large segmented rocket motor production.

Orbital ATK employees and Captain Wilmore both enjoyed the visit, and Butch was very impressed and complimentary of both our facilities and personnel. 

Below are a few select photos from their visit:

Fred Brasfield, vice president NASA Programs for Orbital ATK Propulsion Systems, Butch Wilmore, NASA astronaut and Naval Captain, watch and learn as Dale Frame (Senior Operations Manager) explains how the large, 1,800-gallon mixer works.


 Butch Wilmore, NASA astronaut and Naval Captain, presents the coveted Silver Snoopy award to Dr. Will Garrett for his outstanding and innovative contributions to the successful SLS Booster motor insulation-propellant void anomaly investigation team.