Meet OmegA, the brand new Orbital ATK rocket slated launch from KSC by 2021


Orbital ATK’s OmegA rocket might launch from Kennedy Space Center as quickly as 2021.
Orbital ATK

COLORADO SPRINGS – The burgeoning house trade has a brand new entrant: OmegA, an intermediate- to heavy-class rocket constructed by Orbital ATK that would launch from Kennedy Space Center as quickly as 2021.

Previously often known as the Next Generation Launch system, or NGL, the primarily strong rocket-propelled automobile’s new title was unveiled throughout a media occasion Monday on the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

“We’re in it to win it,” stated Barry Beneski, vice chairman of communications for Orbital ATK, on the Broadmoor Hotel. “This is the largest discretionary spending item over the next couple years in the company.”

The rocket, largely designed to deal with nationwide safety payloads and developed underneath the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, might launch from KSC’s pad 39B as quickly as 2021. OmegA would not be the one tenant at 39B, although – NASA’s Space Launch System mega-rocket will even use the pad.

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But what’s in title? Not solely does it symbolize the biggest star cluster within the Milky Way, Omega Centauri, however the first and final letters hint again to the corporate title itself.

“OmegA reflects the fact that this particular launch vehicle is our ultimate launch vehicle,” stated Scott Lehr, Orbital ATK’s president of flight techniques. “It completes our rocket family lineup from small all the way to heavy.”

In its intermediate three-stage configuration, OmegA might be highly effective: About 2 million kilos of thrust at liftoff with no side-strapped strong rocket boosters. But with the added flexibility of sporting as much as six SRBs, that quantity might greater than double and enter heavy-lift territory with round 5 million kilos of thrust. To present perspective, SpaceX’s much-vaunted Falcon Heavy rocket launched in February with barely greater than 5 million kilos of thrust.

Lehr additionally introduced that Orbital ATK chosen Aerojet Rocketdyne’s liquid fuel-powered RL10C for the third stage, which is able to in the end propel connected spacecraft on a path towards their ultimate orbits. Variants of the engine additionally energy the higher phases of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets.

OmegA will use strong engines, which use strong gasoline, as the first technique of thrust till the RL10C third stage takes over. Other rockets, similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and ULA’s Atlas V, rely solely on liquid propulsion, although the latter typically consists of strap-on SRBs to enhance efficiency.


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Building extra rockets is a pure transfer for Orbital ATK, particularly for the reason that firm makes use of heavy vertical integration by constructing its personal strong rocket engines, massive composite buildings and avionics, to call a couple of. It even builds spacecraft similar to NASA’s planet-hunting TESS mission, which is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a Falcon 9 no sooner than Wednesday at 6:51 p.m.

“It’s very much an all-American rocket,” Lehr stated, noting that is presently being constructed. “All of this equates to low cost and affordability.”

Orbital ATK expects to check hearth the core propulsion for OmegA in summer time 2019, which is only one ingredient of the actions required for Air Force EELV certification.

Contact Emre Kelly at [email protected] or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook at @EmreKelly.

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