The second stage of a Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI) ballistic missile defense system passed a static-firing test, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said yesterday.

The KEI industry team fired the rocket motor in a cold temperature environment at the ATK test facility in Elkton, Md., demonstrating KEI’s ability to operate in cold weather conditions.

The program is led by prime contractor Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN], and includes about 10 other contractors.

The rocket motor burned successfully for its designed full duration, and the initial assessment is that all test objectives were met and the rocket motor matched performance expectations, according to MDA.

This success provides additional confidence in the KEI booster design and represents significant progress toward the first booster flight test planned for next year, the MDA added.

The KEI is a high-acceleration ballistic missile interceptor technology designed to defeat medium- to long-range ballistic missiles during their boost, ascent and midcourse phases of flight.

KEI is designed to be a mobile, globally deployable system to provide the United States with advanced capabilities against future ballistic missile threats.