Solid rocket propulsion maker Alliant Techsystems (ATK) is readying its first prototype complete rocket for launch from the NASA Wallops Flight Centre facility in Virginia at the end of July.

The two-stage internally funded vehicle, called the ATK launch vehicle (ALV), will carry three NASA payloads for the suborbital flight. One payload, from NASA's Langley Research Center, is designed for hypersonic boundary layer research and then two "soccer ball-sized" secondary payloads, from NASA Ames Research Center, will be deployed at the ALV's suborbital trajectory's apogee.

ATK vice president Charlie Precourt tells Flight International that the company is undertaking the project to gain experience in integrating and launching a vehicle.

He explained that ATK does not plan to begin building booster systems, but rather would like to be able to offer customers more comprehensive pre-integration sevices for small and medium-sized vehicles for NASA, the US military and commercial industry.

"We'll have the badge of having done it," says Precourt, referring to the planned July launch of ALV.