Virginia-based Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a Launch Services Agreement, worth some $792 million of government investment from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, to continue development of its OmegATM rocket for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
The agreement runs through 2024 and includes certification flights of OmegA’s intermediate variant in 2021 and its heavy variant in 2024.
OmegA will provide intermediate-to-heavy-class launch services for the Department of Defense, civil government and commercial customers.
With major propulsion and structural elements of OmegA already complete, Northrop Grumman is on schedule to complete propulsion system ground tests in 2019 and conduct its first launch in 2021.
“We are pleased to receive this follow-on award from the Air Force,” said Scott Lehr, president, flight systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our new OmegA rocket leverages technologies, capabilities and flight experience gained from decades of successful rocket launches, making it an affordable and reliable choice for national security missions.”
Over the last three years, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force have together invested more than $300 million in developing the OmegA rocket.
Artist's rendering of Northrop Grumman’s OmegA rocket.
The rocket configuration consists of first and second solid rocket stages, and strap-on solid boosters, manufactured by Northrop Grumman; and a cryogenic liquid upper stage powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10C engine.
After initial flights of its intermediate configuration in 2021, OmegA will be certified for operational EELV missions starting in 2022, with initial heavy configuration flights beginning in 2024.
Northrop Grumman has a long history of launching critical payloads for the Department of Defense, NASA and other customers with the company’s Pegasus®, Minotaur and AntaresTM launch vehicles, as well as, a wide array of strategic missile interceptors and targets in support of critical national security launch programs.
The company’s development team is working on the program in Arizona, Utah, Mississippi and Louisiana, with launch integration and operations planned at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The program will also support hundreds of jobs across the country in its supply chain.