Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems is preparing to conduct the first OmegA static fire test. The test of the rocket’s solid-fueled first stage is expected to be completed at the launch provider’s Promontory, Utah facility on May 30.
“The first stage rocket motor is the heart of the OmegA vehicle,” said Paul Messer, OmegA first and second stage motor program manager at Northrop Grumman. “With the critical data from the static fire test, and the post-test inspections, we can qualify our products and ensure their reliability to our customers.”
In preparation for next week’s test, engineers at Promontory are completing preparations of the test stage by fitting instrumentation gauges and data recorders. During the test, every imaginable parameter will be monitored and measured to ensure the stage performs within design specifications.
“Every countdown step is critical and has to be performed with perfection,” said Jamie Barney, director of test and research operations and propulsion systems at Northrop Grumman. “We have an extremely experienced team, but no one here is ever complacent about a rocket test.”
The development of the OmegA rocket began in January 2016 when Orbital ATK was awarding a $49.9 million Air Force contract to help reduce the country’s dependency on Russian-made rocket engines. In September 2017, Northrop Grumman purchased Orbital ATK for $7.8 billion and rebranded the launch provider as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. Work on the OmegA continued under the company’s new leadership. In October 2018, the OmegA was awarded an Air Force Launch Services Agreement contract worth $792 million enabling Northrop Grumman to build and launch the first Omega rockets.
Northrop Grumman hopes to use the OmegA to bid for lucrative intermediate to heavy national security Air Force contracts. It will also be used to bid for NASA science missions while offering launch services to commercial customers.