-- Company to be Responsible for the Design, Production and Flight of Boost Vehicle to Verify Astronaut Safety System --
-- Initial Three-Year Contract from U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Development and Test Wing Valued at Approximately $35 Million; Contract Also Includes $45 Million of Options for Additional Test Flights and Spare Vehicles --
(Dulles, Va., April 11, 2007) -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) today announced that it 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 succeed the Space Shuttle in transporting humans to and from the International Space Station, the Moon and eventually to Mars and beyond.
Orbital's role is to develop, build and test a new booster configuration to demonstrate and qualify the Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) that will allow the astronaut crew to safely 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 proven rocket technology, is a key element in demonstrating the new system that will vastly improve the safety of the flight crew.
"We are very pleased to be a member of the NASA/SDTW Orion ATB team, particularly for these early Orion flights, which will demonstrate important crew safety systems," said Mr. Mark Ogren, Orbital's Vice President of Business Development of its Launch Systems Group. "Orbital had been working toward designing the optimal vehicle configuration that will best perform these missions for over three years."