Orbital ATK and the U.S. Air Force have signed a cooperative research and development agreement that seeks to facilitate certification of a rocket system for USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center.
The CRADA establishes a data exchange plan and framework required to certify Orbital ATK’s Next Generation Launch system for use in national security space missions, the company said Thursday.
NGL vehicles are designed to launch very large science or commercial satellites that the current Pegasus, Minotaur and Antares rockets cannot support.
The new launch vehicle’s hardware is currently in early production phase, Orbital ATK noted.
Orbital ATK expects to receive launch service agreements from the Air Force by mid-2018 to move forward with the next phase of the NGL program.
The company and the service branch have collectively invested more than $200 million in the program to date.