Aerospace and defense products manufacturer ATK Aerospace Systems earned a $48-million subcontract from Orbital Sciences Corp. to supply commercial solid rocket motors for the Missile Defense Agency Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) target rocket program. If fully subscribed with all options, ATK indicated the contract could be worth up to $90 million.
The IRBM target is a multi-stage vehicle that will be air-launched from a standard C-17 cargo aircraft via a parachute extraction system. it will increase testing flexibility for MDA’s development of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS).
Orbital is the prime contractor to the MDA for the IRBM program. The ATK Orion solid rocket motors will provide first- and second-stage propulsion for the target rocket.
ATK’s Orion motor was introduced in 1988 in a joint venture with Orbital that developed the winged Pegasus space launch vehicle. The motor design has been modified several times for use on various other platforms, and versions of Orion motors are used on the ground-based Midcourse Defense Orbital Boost Vehicle, too.
In the new contract, ATK's initial award covers first eight Orion 50S XLT and 50 XLT vehicles, to be delivered by Q1 2013. Contract options cover deliveries of 14 more rockets through 2015.
"This is an entirely new application for our versatile Orion solid rocket motor family," stated ATK’s Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager of Strategic and Commercial Systems. "ATK Orion motors are currently used by MDA and Orbital for missile defense and in a variety of Orbital commercial launch vehicles."
"There is a significant cost and reliability benefit gained by selecting solid rocket motors that are already in production for other applications," he continued.