Northrop Grumman is embarking on a project to manufacture large-scale composite structures for a launch vehicle designed to support the U.S. Air Force's national security space programs.
The company said Thursday more than 170 technicians, engineers and personnel at the firm's Iuka, Miss., facility are working on OmegA rocket parts such as the nose cone, connecting sections and other structures that span up to 18 feet in diameter.
USAF awarded the company a potential $791.6M other transaction agreement in October of last year to develop the launch system as part of the service branch's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
Efforts are underway to prepare the rocket's first stage motor for a ground test this spring and expects testing of the rocket's second stage to occur in the fall.
The Iuka plant has previously produced composite structures for Northrop's Pegasus and Antares rockets, as well as United Launch Alliance's Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles.
According to Northrop, its composite structures are designed to handle gravity and aerodynamics-induced forces during launch despite weighing less than metal components.
OmegA is scheduled to lift off on its first mission sometime in 2021.