One of the big headlines of last year’s Space Symposium was Orbital ATK’s unveiling of a new rocket designed to challenge incumbents United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for future U.S. Air Force launch contracts.
Dubbed OmegA, the vehicle had been secretly in the works for three years under the generic name “Next Generation Launch System.” The solid-propulsion OmegA was dreamed up by Orbital ATK before the company was acquired by Northrop Grumman. The reveal at the 34th Space Symposium happened just a few months before the acquisition of Orbital ATK was completed.
OmegA’s chances of becoming a credible player in the National Security Space Launch program (NSSL) — formerly known as the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program— got a boost in October when the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $792 million Launch Service Agreement to share the cost of developing OmegA to carry military satellites.
Launch Service Agreement (LSA) funding — also awarded to competitors United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin — is to be spread over five years to help the companies pay for the infrastructure and vehicle modifications that would be required for Air Force certification to fly national security missions.
In the second phase of LSA, ...