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| Propulsion | Aerospace

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At Orbital ATK, Mark Ogren works on the preliminary design of the company’s propulsion technologies, including targets, interceptors, or space launch vehicles. Ogren spoke with Tech Briefs about Orbital’s beginnings, and the origins of his own love for rocketry.

Before the 2015 merger with ATK, Orbital Sciences Corporation was founded in 1982 by three friends who had met attending Harvard Business School. Armed with their business school education, and an initial round of financing, the trio of David W. Thompson, Scott Webster, and Bruce Ferguson developed their first product: NASA’s Transfer Orbital Stage (TOS), an upper-stage rocket designed to boost payloads into high orbits.

Ogren, Vice President of Business Development for the Launch Vehicles Division of Orbital ATK, headquartered in Chandler, AZ, came to the company a decade later.

Tech Briefs: How did you get involved in rocketry?

Mark Ogren: I’d been around aviation and rocketry as a little boy. My mother would take me to air shows. As a kid, my parents actually got me a few shares of McDonnell-Douglas [a Missouri-based aerospace manufacturing corporation and defense contractor established in 1967]. So, as a 12-year-old, I would go down to the stockholder meeting in St. Louis in a sport coat and tie, and then get a tour of the fighter production line. I had an Aviation Week and Space Technology subscription when I was 12. I got my first Estes model rocket when I was 8. I became an aerospace engineer and came to work for Orbital Sciences in 1992.

Tech Briefs: Can you describe the first rocket that Orbital launched?

Ogren: Orbital ATK developed the Pegasus rocket. Dr. Antonio Elias came up with an idea, literally sketching it on a napkin, of a rocket being launched from the wing of a B52 and putting payloads into orbit.

The first launch occurred on April 5, 1990, from Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. And to date, we’ve launched 43 Pegasus rockets. We have several launches scheduled this year: a Minotaur-C launch vehicle, an Antares launch vehicle, and a Pegasus launch vehicle.