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Northrop Grumman wins $86m contract to re-purpose ICBM launch systems

Northrop Grumman wins $86m contract to re-purpose ICBM launch systems

Stephen Kuper

Northrop Grumman has secured a $86 million contract with the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center to conduct research, development, test and evaluation for the launch vehicle support of DoD and commercial launch systems.

The contract is part of the Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP), an eight-year effort for ongoing ageing surveillance for all deactivated Minuteman and Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) motors. 

Efforts include component dissection, motor plugging, propellant properties testing and hazards analysis, as well as overall program support. In addition, the RSLP contract provides for special studies and additional component development or testing on an as-required basis.

Kent Rominger, vice president, strategic programs at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, said, "Northrop Grumman’s long history of working with the Air Force and SMC speaks for itself – we’re very proud of our work on this effort."

Northrop Grumman has supported RSLP solid rocket motor testing and analysis for all deactivated Minuteman and Peacekeeper assets, ensuring safe storage and flight reliability since 1997. 

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Retired Minuteman and Peacekeeper motors are used for a variety of purposes, including government launches for the Minotaur series of rockets, US Missile Defense Agency missions, test launches such as next year’s Ascent Abort-2 NASA Orion and Launch Abort System test flight, and sounding rockets.

The RSLP mission was established by the Secretary of Defense in 1972. RSLP provides mission planning, payload integration, vehicle acquisition, processing, launch operations, booster storage and disposition, ageing surveillance, maintenance and logistics support for selected DoD responsive space and research, development, test and evaluation launches.

The RSLP converts surplus ICBMs into test launch vehicles for suborbital and sounding rocket launches. The RSLP is part of the Space and Missile Test and Evaluation Directorate (SMC/TE) located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

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