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Orbital BMD Contract Could Reach One Billion Dollars

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by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Aug 01, 2006
The Orbital Sciences Launch Systems Group in Chandler, Ariz., has a contract that could reach $1 billion by the end of the decade to develop interceptor booster rockets for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the East Valley Tribune newspaper reported Sunday.

The company, which is functioning as a subcontractor to Boeing, has about 1,000 Chandler employees working on the project, Orbital spokesman Barry Beneski told the newspaper. So far, 11 of the ground-based interceptor missiles have been deployed in silos at Ft. Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

"We are building them at a rate of about one a month and are under contract to do that into 2009," Beneski said. In Chandler, the company was doing design, development and avionics work, but the actual fabrication of the rockets took place at Vandenberg, he said.

"Our role is to be the integrator of the rocket," he said. "The motors we get from a supplier, the guidance system is from a supplier. We manage all of those suppliers and put it all together in California."

Orbital also is working on a separate system called the kinetic energy interceptor, a mobile truck-launch missile designed to be deployed in distant lands near the adversary's launch site. The high-speed interceptors would destroy the enemy missile shortly after launch while it is still in the boost phase of its flight. Orbital is working as a subcontractor to Raytheon and Northrop Grumman on that project.

That program is still in research and development with the first test flight scheduled in 2008, the East Valley Tribune said.

Source: United Press International

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