Spaceflight Insider

Aerojet Rocketdyne ‘kill vehicle’ performs successful test

Aerojet Rocketdyne 'kill vehicle' performs successful test

A long-range ground-based interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to successfully intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile target launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. This was the first live-fire test event against an ICBM-class target. Image and Caption Credit: Missile Defense Agency

Last week, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced the 10th successful test of its Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS) on its Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) in the first live-fire missile defense test against an ICBM-class target.

The EKV DACS is Aerojet’s contribution to the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program which conducted its most recent test on May 30, 2017. The flight, designated FTG-15, also represented the first test of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Alternate Propellant Tank (APT).

“The inaugural flight of the APT represents several years of dedicated work by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s engineering team,” said Charlie Meraz, the senior director for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Missile Defense Program. “The APT design is a true reflection of the company’s ability to leverage the best engineering tools to improve reliability and meet customer needs.”

The FTG-15 test consisted of an ICBM launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, 2,566 miles (4,130 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii, followed by the launch of a Boeing-built interceptor carrying the EKV DACS from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The EKV was moved into position utilizing Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Alternate Divert Thruster (ADT), which was undergoing its second in-flight test and first intercept test. Altogether, the system successfully moved into position to intercept and destroy the incoming ICBM.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne has been a key member of the GMD program team since the beginning and we are proud that our DACS, ADT and APT performed as expected,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “At Aerojet Rocketdyne, we are committed to delivering reliable products and services that play a critical role in defending our country and our allies around the globe. We look forward to continuing our support of the next generation of this program, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle.”



Paul is currently a graduate student in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Akransas in Fayetteville. He grew up in the Kansas City area and developed an interest in space at a young age at the start of the twin Mars Exploration Rover missions in 2003. He began his studies in aerospace engineering before switching over to geology at Wichita State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 2013. After working as an environmental geologist for a civil engineering firm, he began his graduate studies in 2016 and is actively working towards a PhD that will focus on the surficial processes of Mars. He also participated in a 2-week simluation at The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in 2014 and remains involved in analogue mission studies today. Paul has been interested in science outreach and communication over the years which in the past included maintaining a personal blog on space exploration from high school through his undergraduate career and in recent years he has given talks at schools and other organizations over the topics of geology and space. He is excited to bring his experience as a geologist and scientist to the Spaceflight Insider team writing primarily on space science topics.

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