For over 70 years, Northrop Grumman’s Missile Defense and Controls (MD&C), headquartered in Elkton, Maryland, has supported many industry “firsts.” The company’s solid rockets helped explore the boundaries of space in the 1950’s and land on the moon for the first time in 1969, pioneering the design and testing of hypersonic engines. Since then, the facility has supported orbit insertion of commercial and GPS satellites, used controllable solid propulsion to intercept ballistic missile targets, and demonstrated that a scramjet could fly 10 times faster than the speed of sound.
MD&C also continues to support the future of both crewed and uncrewed space exploration. In June, a Northrop Grumman STAR 48BV motor helped propel NASA’s Parker Solar Probe on its final trajectory to the sun. In addition, MD&C is providing the motor for the crew escape system aboard NASA’s next crewed vehicle: the Space Launch System (SLS). Future plans include demonstrating a propulsion system for a vehicle that can take off using a turbojet engine, transition to a hypersonic air-breathing engine, and transition back to landing as a plane.
The MD&C team continues to solve the industry’s most challenging problems with innovative solid and air-breathing propulsion solutions. Emerging threats around the world are driving the need for rapid development of high performing, highly agile rocket motors, engines and control systems. While adversaries are getting smarter, Northrop Grumman continues to meet the challenge by enhancing proven capabilities with new skills like additive manufacturing. Coupled with powerful design and analysis tools, and new materials, additive manufacturing is reshaping how the company approaches design and manufacturing processes to make the impossible -possible and affordable. Once complex subassemblies are now produced as single piece parts, improving performance characteristics, reliability and ease of assembly.
On the manufacturing side, Northrop Grumman technicians and inspectors build the most complex propulsion systems, and ensure that they have a work environment where their talent can shine. Initiatives related to safety, quality, delivery and cost engage the workforce daily and employees are empowered to offer process improvements and take action when needed.
MD&C has a proven track record for meeting tough challenges with unique engineering and manufacturing solutions. Whether it’s welding over live propellant, wrapping composite cases around multi-pulse propellant grains, building thermally balanced flight-weight scramjets or controlling hot gas flow with proportional control valves, employees work hard to provide the warfighter with the tools they need to keep America and its allies safe.