Space Innovators Confident They Are Building America’s Next Large-Class Launcher

Orbital ATK believes it has the right rocket to answer the U.S. Air Force’s quest for a new Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV).

ATK OMEGA Launcher
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The company is drawing on its history of space launch success to produce its all-American, large-class launcher: OmegaTM. Omega is a low-cost, low-risk solution that will fully meet the intermediate- and heavy-class vehicle requirements of EELV. Orbital ATK is drawing on a long history of innovation and space launch accomplishments—nearly 100 successful missions for a variety of customers. The U.S. government and diverse commercial customers rely on the company’s existing line of rockets, from its small-class Pegasus and Minotaur to medium-class Antares.

One thing that sets Orbital ATK apart is that it plays a critical role on every national security launch program.Omega is the logical next step for a company with such a robust portfolio, providing the capability to launch intermediate and heavy payloads. It will be the company’s largest and most capable rocket. The company points out that the O and A at the beginning and end of the name pay homage to the Orbital ATK name and history of innovation; the name also highlights Omega is the finale in the company’s rocket lineup, from small- to large-class.

The three-stage Omega relies substantially on existing technology, ensuring a relatively short development period at a time when the Air Force is eager to speed up the fielding of new systems.

“Orbital ATK has been launching into space since the 1980s – this is what we do, and we have the track-record of success to prove it. Omega draws not only on Orbital ATK’s launch heritage but also on a significant amount of existing technology, which gets us out of the starting gate with a low risk profile,” said Mark Pieczynski, vice president of business development for Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “We’re integrating flight-proven technologies that we’re already delivering to our customers. All Omega systems are mature, exhibiting a technology readiness level ranging from a TRL-6 to TRL-9.”

Omega will share common propulsion, structures and avionics systems with current and future programs. Such commonality will keep the all-American Omega affordable for the Air Force’s EELV program while also saving other government agencies about $600 million over 10 years.

Orbital ATK is producing Omega hardware today. It has already built solid rocket motors for the first stage and second stage and is readying them for full-scale testing at its factory in Promontory, Utah. The first and second stages are on track to undergo static firing tests in 2019.

Omega’s first-stage CASTOR® 600 and 1200 motors are based on the NASA Space Shuttle’s solid rocket motors. The main difference is that the cases will be made with composites instead of steel – composites that Orbital ATK is already using for space launches.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 engine will be Omega’s primary upper-stage propulsion system due to its low-risk and extensive OMEGA ATKheritage delivering defense, civil and commercial payloads to orbit.

Other key components are also ready for use on Omega. The payload fairings are similar in size to the Delta IV fairing, which Orbital ATK manufactures in its Iuka, Mississippi factory. The avionics are tailored to Omega but have already flown on other systems.

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