VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., April 14, 2009 -- The Kinetic Energy Interceptors (KEI) industry team, led by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), has completed full-scale "pathfinder" ground operations in preparation for the weapon system's booster flight test scheduled for later this year.
Pathfinder operations are dry runs and rehearsals preceding an actual flight test or launch, including all aspects of vehicle preparations, ground operations and range safety systems. The pathfinder team assembled a full-scale, flight-like booster using inert rocket motors and flight-qualified structures to fully validate all interfaces with the booster, ground support equipment and facility structures.
"Successfully completing pathfinder ground activities is a critical milestone leading towards KEI's first flight demonstration later this year," said Anthony Spehar, vice president and KEI program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "While other tests still remain prior to the booster flight, we continued to gain confidence from the thorough and deliberate approach taken by team members to ensure all aspects of the booster flight are carefully planned, reviewed and executed, including contingencies."
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is funding KEI's development. Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) is the industry team's lead for interceptor development; and Orbital Sciences (NYSE:ORB) is responsible for integrating the booster and for preparing range operations to execute the booster flight.
Once the booster was completely assembled, it was moved to the launch pad by the same transporter erector that will be used for the actual launch. The pathfinder booster was then lifted onto the launch stool by crane, duplicating the process that will be used for the actual booster. After these launch preparations, the pathfinder team rehearsed the countdown procedures that will be used during the test flight, and also rehearsed safety procedures when the inert missile failed to "launch."
KEI is designed to be a globally deployable, mobile missile defense system. The production system will feature state-of-the-art components. Its highly maneuverable kill vehicle will be carried by a very fast acceleration/maneuverable missile that is cold gas-launched from a mobile platform and guided by a unique new sensor-fusing fire control capability. This integrated weapon system provides a persistent (24/7), all-weather capability to destroy intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles in their boost to midcourse phases of flight.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
CONTACT: Bob Bishop Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems 310.812.5227 Cell: 310.251.0261 firstname.lastname@example.org