- Press Release
- Jan 30, 2023
Orbital and Northrop Grumman Team Up to Design New Human Space Flight Architectures
Orbital Sciences Corporation
and Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Integrated Systems
Sector (ISS) jointly announced today that the two companies recently signed a
wide-ranging teaming agreement to support the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration’s (NASA’s) 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)
In addition, Orbital and Northrop Grumman submitted a major proposal
to NASA earlier this week to participate in America’s space agency’s plan to
invest up to $4.5 billion over the next five years to prepare for the full-
scale development of the next-generation RLV that may eventually replace the
NASA’s 2nd Generation RLV program, which is part of the agency’s Space
Launch Initiative (SLI), is designed to advance RLV technologies and system
architectures that will support a decision by NASA for full-scale development
of a new RLV by 2005.
The Orbital team’s submission, whose total potential
value was not disclosed, includes proposals for RLV architecture systems
engineering and several technology risk reduction activities.
proposal, the Orbital team will help define a safe, reliable, low-cost space
transportation system that will enhance the civil exploration and commercial
development of space.
“Orbital and Northrop Grumman together offer a powerful new U.S. team in
the wake of recent space industry consolidation that has narrowed the field of
potential prime contractors and system integrators from which NASA can
select,” stated Dr. Antonio L. Elias, Orbital’s Senior Vice President and
General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group.
“Our proven record in
developing and operating reliable, cost-effective space launch systems,
combined with Northrop Grumman’s extensive experience in manned and unmanned
flight vehicles, uniquely qualifies our team in the area of human space
flight, the highest achievement in our industry.”
NASA’s 2nd Generation RLV Program is planned for an initial term of 10
months with options extending through 2005.
It builds on the results of
previous NASA work focusing on systems engineering and conceptual design.
two companies previously partnered on a two-year, $6 million contract in
support of NASA’s Space Transportation Architecture Studies (STAS) and the
follow-on risk reduction activities.
Under the proposal submitted earlier this week, Orbital would serve as the
prime contractor and would lead the architecture definition and systems
Orbital also would coordinate both the technical and
business assessments of alternative future launch architectures across all
Orbital’s participation in the proposal is spearheaded by the company’s
Advanced Programs Group (APG).
Orbital’s APG is already leading the way in
RLV technology and future human space flight as the prime contractor on NASA’s
X-34 rocket powered demonstration vehicle and observer contractor on NASA’s X-
38/Crew Return Vehicle program.
Orbital has designed, manufactured and begun
field and in-flight testing activities at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center
on the first of three full-scale X-34 airframes that have been built.
addition, the first prototype MC-1 engine (formerly known as the Fastrac
engine), developed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, was recently
installed on an X-34 vehicle at the company’s Dulles, Virginia manufacturing
Orbital’s 2nd Generation RLV effort builds on more than a decade of
leadership in the commercial launch systems market.
Over the past decade, the
company has been one of the most active and successful developers of entirely
new space launch vehicles, including the introduction of such trailblazing
launch systems as Pegasus® and Taurus®.
In addition, Orbital developed
the Minotaur space launch vehicle for the U.S. Air Force utilizing surplus
government assets to produce an all-new, low-cost alternative for U.S.
government satellite missions.
Orbital selected Northrop Grumman as the company’s principal partner for
the proposed effort after having worked closely with the company on NASA’s
Space Transportation Architecture Studies.
Northrop Grumman’s role will
constitute a large portion of the Orbital team’s efforts.
intends to build on that relationship by incorporating system integration,
leading risk reduction efforts, and providing other complementary capabilities
to support NASA in the results of this system definition and technology
“We bring to the Orbital team our expertise in the areas of system
integration and advanced technology in support of NASA’s 2nd Generation RLV
program,” said Mr. Tom Vice, Vice President of Business and Advanced Systems
Design for Northrop Grumman ISS’s Air Combat Systems (ACS) business area.
are confident that our past performance in these two areas will help
strengthen an already robust relationship with Orbital and help us to continue
our efforts on the program,” he added.
Northrop Grumman’s ISS, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a premier
aerospace systems integration enterprise.
ISS has the capabilities to design,
develop, integrate, produce and support complete systems, as well as airframe
subsystems, for airborne surveillance and battle management aircraft, early
warning aircraft, airborne electronic warfare aircraft and air combat
More information about Northrop Grumman can be found at
Orbital is one of the largest space technology and satellite services
companies in the world, with 1999 total enterprise revenues (including
revenues from unconsolidated affiliates) of approximately $915 million.
company, headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, employs about 4,500 people at
major facilities in the United States, Canada and several overseas locations.
Orbital is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of low-cost space
systems, including satellites, launch vehicles, electronics and sensors,
satellite ground systems and related digital infrastructure.
subsidiary is a pioneer in satellite-based navigation and communications
products for consumer and industrial markets.
Through its ORBCOMM and
ORBIMAGE affiliates and ORBNAV subsidiary, Orbital is also a major operator of
satellite-based networks that provide data communications, high-resolution
imagery and automotive information services to customers all around the world.
More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com .