Northrup Grumman has completed a successful full-scale static fire test of an OmegA rocket second stage. The completion of the test is a key milestone in the company’s preparation for the rocket’s maiden flight in 2021.
The static fire test was conducted at a Northrup Grumman facility in Promontory, Utah on February 27. During the test, the stage was fired for a full-duration burn of approximately 140 seconds. The stage burnt through 154,000 kilograms of solid propellant and produced upwards of 356,000 kilograms of thrust.
In addition to verifying the motor, the test also verified the stage’s thermal performance, steering control, and its performance in a cold-conditioned environment. The Northrup Grumman team collected over 500 channels of data during the test that will be examined thoroughly before any OmegA second stage is cleared for launch.
Although yesterday’s second stage static fire test was completed successfully, Northrup Grumman has encountered problems achieving the same milestone for the rocket’s first stage. During a similar static fire test of an OmegA first stage on May 20, 2019, an anomaly occurred that resulted in the destruction of the rocket’s engine bell.
Despite the anomaly, Northrup Grumman vice president Kent Rominger announced that the test had been successful. With the contradiction between what Northrup Grumman reported and what was evidently clear, it is uncertain if the company plan to attempt a second static fire test of the OmegA first stage.
As the development of the OmegA rocket continues, Northrup Grumman is simultaneously modifying launch infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B. The launchpad will be utilised for the maiden flight of the OmegA in 2021, an occasion that will mark the first time the pad has been used since the one and only Ares I-X launch on October 28, 2009.