When you drive out in the Utah desert, what do you expect to find? I wasn’t expecting much more than just a lot of rocks and dust and some good views. The first time I came out here was while I was working on the “Visit Utah” GeoTour. To complete this challenge, you had to visit all 29 counties in Utah. The Orbital ATK Rocket Display or sometimes also referred to as Rocket Garden is located at their testing facility in the Utah desert along State Route 83, outside of Corinne. It is about a 20-minute drive from the I-15 off-ramp.
You probably never heard of Orbital ATK but I can guarantee you, that you have seen at least one of their products. Orbital ATK built the motor segments for the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) of the Space Shuttle. Besides the military munitions market, Orbital ATK was also engaged in space launch. Their two main rocket families were the Minotaur (up to 3-ton payload) and Antares (up to 8-ton payload).
At the rocket garden, you get to see some of the rockets Orbital ATK was involved with. Most significant is, as previously mentioned, one of the SRBs of the Space Shuttle. The rocket garden is not very big and not comparable to the Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center or the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral. However, it is worth a visit if you are in the area and especially if you are a space geek.
In September 2017, Northrop Grumman announced the purchase of Orbital ATK which was approved by the end of 2017. The purchase will most likely be completed by the end of the first half of 2018 and Orbital ATK will go away and Northrop Grumman will grow bigger. I don’t think the rocket display out in the Utah desert will disappear but you better take your chances now.
Update October 2020
When I was back in Utah for a work project, I re-visited the Golden Spike National Historic Park. During my last visit, I was not able to take the West Auto Tour, as it was closed. After finishing up at the Golden Spike, I stopped by at the rocket display. The signage at the rocket display got finally updated with the new owner’s name – Northrop Grumman. I snapped a few pictures of it. The area on the other side of the driveway to the rocket display parking lot is currently prepared for a new display. I hope they will showcase one of the solid rocket boosters for the NASA Space Launch System (SLS). These boosters are the largest human-rated solid rocket boosters ever built for flight. The booster is 153 feet long and 12 feet in diameter. This booster would fit perfectly in the new area they are preparing right now.
Just over one month before my visit in October 2020, NASA and Northrop Grumman successfully conducted a full-scale static fire test of NASA’s SLS rocket motor, known as Flight Support Booster 1 (FSB-1).
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.