The war for future Air Force launches is warming up as more corporations compete for their share of the twenty-first-century rocket launch industry. On April 18, one of the gigantic players, Orbital ATK, publicized the name of their newest rocket – OMEGA.
This project was previously termed Next Generation Launch. It makes use of solid rocket boosters, but it features a liquid engine upper stage. The firm publicized that the RL10C of Aerojet Rocketdyne would be the engine of the option. Omega is planned to complete propulsion system ground trials in 2019 and to perform its first takeoff in 2012, according to the company. The company also added that Omega is approved for operational missions in the year 2022. Massive configuration flights would start in 2024.
Omega includes a solid-rocket booster, a second stage-powred by the Castor 300 of the company and a third stage powered RC-10C engines by two Aerojet.
According to the Deputy General Manager of Orbital ATK’s launch vehicle division, Mike Pinkston, Omega is a full-bodied all-American launch system. That sentence is essential because tensions increase with Russia, the Pentagon doesn’t like to get stuck launching any national security satellites with the help of Russian engines.
What was once an excellent swords-to-plowshares example of past competitors partaking technology is now a point of pressure – and Russian leverage.
The Air Force claims its strategy for takeoff services obtains a balance between meeting operational requirements, mission assurance, reducing launch costs, and reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions. It appears to be working. Young upstart corporations and respected companies alike are now in the combination.
The leading champion of government takeoff, the United Launch Alliance, is protecting its familiar turf but with an enhanced and new takeoff hardware. SpaceX has already done Air Force launches and will be contending under the guide of both an experienced launch provider and a disruptive newcomer. The kid is the Blue Origin; however, their New Glenn takeoff vehicle has caught the attention of Air Force.
Orbital is a traditional firm working along with robust rocket engines. Nonetheless, they are utilizing new equipment and composite structures, as PopMech discovered during a previous visit to their manufacturing facility in Utah.
The US Air Force will award takeoff services agreements in the middle of 2018 that will cover the remaining development as well as the verification of the winning vehicles and their takeoff sites.