U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center contracts Orbital to design, build, and test next NASA test booster

DULLES, Va., 13 April 2007. Orbital Sciences Corporation has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Air Force Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW) to design and build the next-generation NASA Orion Abort Test Booster (ATB). The contract was awarded under SDTW's Sounding Rockets Program 2 (SRP-2) contract, which allows the use of surplus government boosters to reduce launch vehicle cost for U.S. Government-sponsored missions.

Apr 13th, 2007

DULLES, Va., 13 April 2007.Orbital Sciences Corporation has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Air Force Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW) to design and build the next-generation NASA Orion Abort Test Booster (ATB).

The contract was awarded under SDTW's Sounding Rockets Program 2 (SRP-2) contract, which allows the use of surplus government boosters to reduce launch vehicle cost for U.S. Government-sponsored missions.

The ATB is part of NASA's Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle project that will transport humans to and from the International Space Station, the Moon, and eventually to Mars and beyond.

Orbital is to develop, build, and test a new booster configuration to demonstrate and qualify the Orion Launch Abort System (LAS). The LAS will enable the astronaut crew to escape in the event of an emergency during launch pad operations and through the ascent of the Orion vehicle.

As part of the Lockheed Martin Corporation-led team, Orbital is also designing and building the LAS. Previous abort test boosters for the Mercury and Apollo programs have been called Little Joe I and Little Joe II, respectively. The ATB design, using Orbital's rocket technology, is a key element in demonstrating the new system that will improve the safety of the flight crew.

Orbital is under contract to the Air Force to manage, design, build, and test the ATB at its Chandler, Ariz., campus, as well as at government test facilities in California and New Mexico.

The basic contract calls for a three-year program, including developmental activities and two planned flights in 2009 and 2010. Contract options could add up to two additional flights and two spare vehicles through 2011.

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