Last June, when NG completed its acquisition of Orbital ATK, the company entered into the intermediate/heavy launch vehicle market. The OmegA rocket is being developed by NG under a joint development program with the USAF awarded last October worth $792M to support the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
Officials recently announced plans to start construction of launch support facilities at Kennedy Space Center. Modifications are starting to an existing mobile launch platform, Vehicle Assembly Building, crawler-transporter, and pad 39B.
The OmegA rocket is being designed specifically to service satellite launches for national security missions, although civil and commercial missions are not excluded.
“This rocket was not designed to go to Mars, it was not designed to go to the moon,” said Kent Rominger, Northrop Grumman vice president. “We’re committed to national security.” Tailoring the mission allows design choices that result in lower cost per pound to orbit. These choices include solid rocket first and second stages, which feature a more efficient launch system while sacrificing capability to throttle the engines during launch. Solid rocket boosters also allow a fully expendable solution at a lower cost-to-orbit.
Key program milestones include a first stage test firing at the end of May, a second stage firing in August, and a certification flight of the intermediate variant in 2021. The OmegA schedule calls for EELV operational mission starting 2022.