Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Cold Static Test of Second Stage for OmegA Rocket
Northrop Grumman has successfully completed a cold static test of the second stage of its OmegA rocket in Promontory, Utah, completing the full-duration (approx. 140 seconds) firing on the afternoon of February 27.
The OmegA rocket consists of three stages. The first two stages are powered by solid rocket fuel, while the third stage utilizes two Aerojet Rocketdyne RL-10 engines and burns a mixture of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Through the burning of nearly 340,000 pounds of solid propellant, the second stage is designed to produce upwards of 785,000 pounds of thrust.
This test, in conjunction with the successful hot static fire in May 2019, subjected OmegA’s motors to the most extreme propellant temperatures the rocket will experience during storage, transport, stacking and launch. The cold core temperature of the test article was possible by enclosing the stage in a roll-over shed, adjusting the interior temperature during the days prior and then rolling it back on the day of the test.
Northrop Grumman’s vice president of propulsion systems Charlie Precourt said, “Northrop Grumman designed OmegA to use the most reliable propulsion available to ensure exceptional mission assurance for our customers. Today’s firing is a significant accomplishment that demonstrates a domestic solution for the RD-180 rocket engine replacement.”
Northrop Grumman is developing the OmegA rocket for the United States Space Force’s National Security Space Launch program. The rocket is competing against SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket to be selected to launch critical national security payloads for the United States Space Force and National Reconnaissance Office.
Northrop Grumman plans to launch the first OmegA from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in early 2021. It is currently overseeing the completion of required modifications to Mobile Launch Platform-3, for it to successfully serve as OmegA’s assembly and launch platform. Assembly of OmegA will take place in High Bay 2, which Northrop Grumman has taken occupancy of, becoming the first commercial tenant of NASA in their historic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
Patrick Attwell is a native of Houston, Texas but he currently resides in Austin, Texas where he studies accounting at Concordia University Texas. Atwell has had a passion for all things pertaining to aerospace, rocketry, and aviation. Atwell has worked to cover these fields for more than a decade. After he attended and watched the launch of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission it gave him what is known in the space community as “rocket fever.” Since that time, Atwell has followed his dreams and has covered events dealing with NASA’s Commercial Crew flight assignments at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and other space-related events in the Lone Star State.