A few weeks ago, there was a thunder of applause in Promontory when thousands of people celebrated a transportation milestone which occurred 150 years ago. This week, a different kind of thunder roared through the air in Box Elder County because of another form of transportation. Northrop Grumman conducted a full-scale test of the first stage of its new OmegA rocket on Thursday, May 30th in Promontory. According to Northrop Grumman, the test keeps OmegA on track to perform its first launch in 2021 and begin operational launches of national security payloads in 2022.
The rocket fired for a little over two minutes, sending smoke high into the air above the test site. It produced more than two million pounds of maximum thrust. A full-scale static fire test of OmegA’s second stage is planned for this fall.
The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act specified that a domestic next-generation rocket propulsion system “shall be developed by not later than 2019,” a release states. With Thursday’s successful test fire, Northrop Grumman demonstrated the company is on track to meet this Congressionally-mandated schedule. Last October, the U.S. Air Force awarded the company a $792 million contract to complete the design and verification of the OmegA rocket and its launch sites.
“The OmegA rocket is a top priority and our team is committed to provide the U.S. Air Force with assured access to space for our nation’s most critical payloads,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, flight systems, Northrop Grumman in a release. “We committed to test the first stage of OmegA in spring 2019, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Over 600 people are working on the OmegA project in Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.
A replay of the launch can be seen here: