Northrop Grumman has tested the first stage of its new OmegA rocket as the company expects to perform the first launch in 2021 as planned.
The full-scale static fire test was conducted in Promontory, Utah, US, and represents a milestone in the rocket’s journey to begin operational launches of national security payloads in 2022.
The test was performed to validate the performance of the first stage motor’s ballistics, insulation and joints, as well as control of the nozzle position.
During the test, the firing lasted around 122 seconds and produced more than two million pounds of maximum thrust.
Media sources reported the occurrence of a small explosion towards the end of the firing. The reports noted that the nozzle of the rocket engine exploded.
However, Northrop Grumman has termed the static fire test a success.
Northrop Grumman flight systems vice-president and general manager Scott Lehr said: “The OmegA rocket is a top priority and our team is committed to providing the US Air Force (USAF) with assured access to space for our nation’s most critical payloads.
“We committed to testing the first stage of OmegA in spring 2019, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
In October, the company secured a $792m contract from the USAF to complete detailed design and verification of OmegA and launch sites.
The test evaluated the performance of the first stage solid rocket motor for the intermediate version of OmegA.
Northrop Grumman OmegA vice-president Kent Rominger said: “OmegA’s design using flight-proven hardware enables our team to meet our milestones and provide an affordable launch system that meets our customer’s requirements and timeline.”
The company intends to carry out a full-scale static fire test of OmegA’s second stage this fall.
The rocket’s design leverages flight-proven technologies from Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus, Minotaur and Antares rockets, as well as the company’s interceptors, targets and strategic rockets.
The launch integration and operations are expected to be performed in the US at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.