1998 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile







 Paul A. Ross

Alliant Techsystems

Group Vice President

Space and Strategic Systems

A native of Long Beach, California, Mr. Ross received his education in Mechanical Engineering from California State University at Long Beach. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Redlands. In 1992 he completed the Manufacturing Executive Program at the University of Michigan Graduate School of Business Administration in Ann Arbor. He is the recipient of the NASA Astronaut Silver Snoopy Award and the NASA Public Service Award.

Mr. Ross joined Alliant Techsystems as Vice President of Operations in August 1994 and was named Vice President and General Manager of the Space and Strategic Propulsion Division in April 1995. On April 1, 1997, he was promoted to his present position of Group Vice President. He is responsible for marketing, design, development, manufacturing, and support operations for all of Alliant’s space and strategic propulsion, and composite structures businesses. Key space propulsion programs include Delta II and III, Pegasus®, Taurus®, and Titan IVB space launch vehicles. Major strategic propulsion programs include Trident-II (D-5) production and the contract support of Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). The group’s composite structures business area produces lightweight, high-strength structures for commercial and military aircraft, satellite structures and space antennas, cryogenic tanks, and civil infrastructure applications.

Prior to joining Alliant, Mr. Ross spent twenty-five years with Rockwell International, where he held a variety of program management, engineering, quality assurance, finance, and operations positions, including Vice President of Production Operations for the company’s Rocketdyne Division. He also served in key management positions with Thiokol Corporation for six years.
















Paul Ross

Group Vice President

Space and Strategic Systems

Alliant Techsystems






June 25, 1998


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am Paul Ross and currently I am the Group Vice President of Space and Strategic Systems for Alliant Techsystems. Alliant Techsystems is a $1.1 billion aerospace and defense company with approximately 6,600 employees and operations in 23 states. Headquartered in Hopkins, Minn., the company’s business groups are Conventional Munitions, Space and Strategic Systems, and Defense Systems. The Space and Strategic Systems group comprises the company’s space and strategic propulsion and graphite composites structures operations. The group employs approximately 1,800 people in California, Florida, and Utah. Sales in fiscal year 1998 were $370 million.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before this committee today. I believe that this committee is addressing issues of vital importance to the industrial base and security of our nation. The technology involved is special because it not only plays a key role in our nation’s access to space but also forms the basis for our strategic deterrence. The launch of commercial satellites is a multi-billion dollar international industry. The manufacture of U.S. launch vehicles involves dozens of domestic companies that produce key subsystems and components. Many of these companies also provide key subsystems and components for our strategic missiles. My remarks today will address some aspects of the relationship between commercial space launch vehicles and strategic missiles and the impact of the launch of commercial satellites on our industrial base and our national security.


Solid rocket motors (SRMs) power this nation’s strategic nuclear deterrent. SRMs replaced liquid rocket motors because of their ability to provide highly reliable launch on demand after long periods of storage in missile silos and submarines. Today, largely as a result of defense programs funded by the U.S. government, the United States has the world’s most advanced large SRM design and manufacturing capability. SRM technology is one of the key technologies that our nation possesses, and it promises to be a key technology well into the future. However, in the past ten years the business of developing and manufacturing large SRMs has dramatically changed. Shrinkage of the defense budget has left only two companies with a substantial presence in large SRM design and manufacture—Alliant Techsystems and Thiokol. At Alliant Techsystems, the contracts for the development and production of SRMs to power strategic missiles have shrunk from the principal source of our business to a relatively small part of our annual sales. At the same time the proportion of our business that is associated with launch vehicles that place government and commercial satellites in orbit has grown to represent 80% of our propulsion business. The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars over decades to develop the technology of solid propulsion. Today, that capability is being sustained by the use of SRMs to launch commercial satellites.


1. Changes in U.S. launch industry as it places greater emphasis on commercial activity

Today, Alliant Techsystems no longer manufactures the SRMs for the Air Force’s Peacekeeper missiles because the production program is complete. Our production of SRMs for the Navy’s D-5 (Trident-II) missile is at the minimum number required to maintain the scaled-down production line. There has not been a major development program for SRMs for strategic missiles in over ten years. The research and engineering staffs with expertise and knowledge in these fields are being sustained by programs to design and develop new and better SRMs for satellite space launch applications. Our manufacturing lines, now increasingly used for the production of space launch boosters, have continued to perfect the art and science of SRM production using such techniques as Statistical Process Control. In one sense this is a success story about the transition from supporting a Cold War arms race to a global information age economy. However, the capability to design and manufacture new large SRMs for this nation’s defense is now increasingly dependent on the demand for our SRMs to power launch vehicles that place commercial satellites in orbit.

2. Relationship between commercial space launch activity and strategic missile development in maintaining/developing a technological/ industrial base in space launch vehicle and missile systems

The U.S. industrial base for developing and maintaining strategic missiles is virtually identical with that which supports space launch vehicles. The fundamental systems, subsystems, and components of strategic missiles and space launch vehicles are very similar. For a summary level comparison I would refer you to the testimony of William R. Graham before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services on BENEFITS OF COMMERCIAL SPACE LAUNCH ASSISTANCE AND USE FOR FOREIGN INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAMS on May 21, 1998. A copy of that testimony is attached for your information. The U.S. government and the taxpayer currently benefit from the participation by U.S. SRM manufacturers and their lower tier suppliers and subcontractors in the commercial space launch business. The commercial space launch business helps to maintain a vital capability that would otherwise be much more expensive to support. In addition, the overhead rates charged to the government on its contracts are reduced because certain fixed costs are also spread over commercial programs. A loss of commercial space launch business to foreign countries or international joint ventures that utilize foreign propulsion systems threatens the viability of the remaining large SRM manufacturers and many of their suppliers. Clearly, Congress and the American people have an interest in preserving the vital capabilities possessed by the remaining large SRM manufacturers.

3. Potential impact on U.S. technological/industrial base for national security and commercial activity of greater Chinese involvement in launch activities

The Chinese launch vehicle industry has demonstrated a willingness to substantially undercut the U.S. domestic launch vehicle industry pricing of satellite launches. More U.S. satellites on Chinese launch vehicles means fewer on U.S. domestic launch vehicles. I have not seen nor heard of a scenario where the U.S. space launch industry, using domestically produced launch vehicles, is not able to satisfy the launch manifest for the U.S. satellite manufacturers. Also of significant concern is the enhancement of the Chinese launch vehicle capability afforded by the provision of U.S. satellite launches. These enhancements include, but are not limited to:

    1. Improved stage separation technology.
    2. Improved and new ordnance systems for stage ignition.
    3. Enhanced technology for orbital altitude and attitude control of upper stages.
    4. Analytical tools, such as structural dynamics analysis software, structural and thermal load analysis software, and load coupling analysis software, and flow analysis software are the same for launch vehicles of any type. Improvements in software quality and capability and the understanding of how to use the software inevitably improve with greater involvement.
    5. Measures taken to increase the performance and reliability of specific launch vehicles translate directly into performance and reliability improvements for all launch vehicles.
    6. One of the most critical technologies that can be improved is the engineering skill and experience required for interpreting and rectifying design problems that occur during system development.
    7. A difficult area to gain engineering expertise and knowledge is solid rocket motor case bond and grain design. Experience is one of the best teachers. Every launch vehicle flight that features a solid rocket motor propulsion component adds to the body of experience and knowledge.


In summary, the U.S. space launch and strategic industrial bases are one and the same. A loss of satellite launch business to foreign competition diminishes companies that support the U.S. strategic deterrent, while at the same time subsidizing the development of a foreign capability. We experience a loss of our strategic capability and business while theirs grows. The U.S. Government and American taxpayer enjoy benefits from U.S. commercial satellites placed into orbit on launch vehicles with components and subsystems made by U.S. companies.