Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC).
The CRADA provides the framework and plan for data exchanges needed to certify Orbital ATK’s Next Generation Launch (NGL) system to carry National Security Space missions. The company is currently in early production of development hardware for NGL. To date, the company has jointly invested with the Air Force more than $200 million to develop the NGL rocket family.
In addition to launching the entire spectrum of national security payloads, the NGL family of vehicles will be capable of launching science and commercial satellites that are too large to be launched by Orbital ATK’s current Pegasus®, Minotaur and AntaresTM space launch vehicles. The NGL vehicles will share common propulsion, structures and avionics systems with other company programs, including smaller space launch vehicles as well as missile defense interceptors, target vehicles and strategic missile systems.
The next phase of the NGL program is expected to begin when the Air Force awards Launch Services Agreements in mid-2018, which would entail full vehicle and launch site development, with work taking place at company facilities in Promontory and Magna, Utah; Iuka, Mississippi; Chandler, Arizona; Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group, noted that under this CRADA, Orbital ATK is better able to support SMC in being the guardians of assured access to space.