Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

Polish Black Hawk

During the MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition, PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company displayed an S-70i Armed Black Hawk helicopter fitted with a single-station external stores pylon. Designed at PZL Mielec as a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to currently fielded dual-station external wings, a single-station pylon attached to one or both sides of the aircraft will be compatible with the advanced weapon system that allows Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations using forward firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles.

An S-70i Black Hawk helicopter at the MSPO trade show carries a lightweight single-station external stores pylon supporting four Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. The prototype pylon’s drop design offers a wide field of fire to the crew-served machine gun, which also can be locked into a fixed forward position for control by a pilot gunner

«We’re developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations», said Janusz Zakręcki, president, general director of PZL Mielec. «Operators can arm the aircraft for suppressive fire, surveillance, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and air assault missions, and still carry out other utility roles whenever pylons and stores must remain on the aircraft».

At a quarter the cost and weight of a dual-station wing, a pylon can be removed or attached by two people in 15 minutes, produces less drag during flight, offers a wider field of fire to window or door gunners, and opens more space to hoist a litter into the aircraft while in a hover.

For large targets, a pylon will be able to carry HELLFIRE or Spike air-to-ground missile launchers. A pylon also can extend aircraft range with an 80-gallon/303-liters external fuel tank.

As a complementary option for the S-70i/S-70M Armed Black Hawk with dual-station wings, the single station pylon will integrate with the aircraft’s weapons management system that calculates the range and complex ballistics required for pilot gunners to engage targets with high accuracy and reliability from stand-off distances during day and night operations.

PZL Mielec expects to begin airworthiness flight testing of the prototype pylon design in 2020.

Intercept Test

Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted a Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) target on August 30, 2019 in a missile defense test led by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with critical support provided by the U.S. Army.

Lockheed Martin’s THAAD System made history by using remote launch capability to successfully detect, track and intercept a threat representative target (Photo by Missile Defense Agency)

During the test, designated Flight Test THAAD (FTT-23), the THAAD system located at U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands successfully detected, tracked and intercepted a threat representative target using a THAAD launcher that was positioned at distance from the other THAAD end items.

The THAAD radar detected, acquired and tracked the target. The THAAD system then developed a fire control solution and launched an interceptor from a remotely-located THAAD launcher that destroyed the target’s reentry vehicle.

This was the 16th successful intercept in 16 attempts for the THAAD system since 2005.

The THAAD system now has the capability to physically untether a THAAD launcher from the battle manager and launch interceptors remotely, greatly enhancing launcher emplacement options and increasing the defended area.

«The enhanced THAAD system performed flawlessly in today’s test, and we are proud to support the Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army as they continue to demonstrate the system’s unmatched capabilities», said Richard McDaniel, vice president of Upper Tier Integrated Air and Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin. «This successful test paves the way for delivery of an urgent need capability that will enhance THAAD’s emplacement options resulting in greater asset protection».

THAAD is highly effective at defending against a host of ballistic missile threats to include mass raid scenarios. The system uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy a threat with direct impact neutralizing lethal payloads before they reach protected assets on the ground. The system is rapidly deployable, mobile and interoperable with all other Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) elements, including Patriot/PAC-3, Aegis, forward-based sensors and the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications system.

Hypersonic Weapon

On August 29, the U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a contract at an estimated value of $347 million as part of a multi-year hypersonic weapons development in support of the Army’s focus in long-range precision strike missiles.

Notional hypersonic strike glide vehicle

As the prime contractor for the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) systems integration project, the Lockheed Martin-team will develop and integrate a land-based hypersonic strike prototype in partnership with the Army Hypersonic Project Office, part of the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. The team includes: Dynetics Technical Solutions (DTS), Integration Innovation Inc. (i3), Verity Integrated Systems, Martinez & Turek, and Penta Research.

«Lockheed Martin is driving rapid technical development for these national priority programs», said Eric Scherff, vice president for Hypersonic Strike Programs for Lockheed Martin Space. «There are natural synergies with our industry teammates. We believe our relationships offer the Army unmatched expertise and puts us in the best position to deliver this critical capability to the nation. Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with the Army in integrating the common hypersonic glide body and the land-based hypersonic strike weapon system prototype. We are committed to combining the best of what our companies have to offer to deliver on this national priority program».

The Army also awarded a contract to DTS at an estimated value of $352 million to produce the first commercially manufactured set of Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) systems. DTS selected Lockheed Martin to support integration and prototyping of this new C-HGB. The C-HGB will be available across military services to provide commonality to air, land and sea platform needs and requirements.

«Dynetics Technical Solutions is pleased to partner with Lockheed Martin on this national defense priority. The Common-Hypersonic Glide Body and Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon programs will modernize our national capabilities and will counter the threat from our foreign adversaries. We are looking forward to the progress our teams will make as we deliver this combat capability to the warfighter», said Steve Cook, DTS president.

The Army LRHW prototype will leverage the C-HGB and introduce a new class of ultrafast and maneuverable long-range missles with the ability to launch from ground mobile platforms. The LRHW system prototype will provide residual combat capability to soldiers by 2023.

Hypersonic strike weapons, capable of flying speeds in excess of Mach 5, are a key aspect of the long-range precision fire modernization effort for the Army and the national security strategy to compete with and outpace potential threats.

LRHW program work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s Alabama, Colorado, California and Texas facilities.

Lockheed Martin is an established industry leader in the development of hypersonic strike technology and our experience will serve as the cornerstone for hypersonic defense systems. Lockheed Martin’s hypersonic strike awards exceed over $2.5 billion across the corporation. We are proud to partner with the Army, Air Force, and Navy on the technology development and demonstration for multiple capabilities that span all hypersonic flight disciplines.

Missile Defense System

The Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) operates collectively and continuously through a multi-domain system that connects traditionally autonomous sensors, satellites and weapon systems. Through a $320 million contract, Lockheed Martin will continue to evolve this multi-domain system, the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) system.

C2BMC enables an optimized response to threats of all ranges in all phases of flight

Fielded and operational since 2004, C2BMC gives commanders at strategic, regional and operational levels an integrated picture of potential or current threats across the globe. Through C2BMC, commanders can make coordinated decisions about the most effective way to engage ballistic missile threats at any range, in any phase of flight.

With this contract, Lockheed Martin’s team will integrate the Long-Range Discrimination Radar, as well as sensors that provide advanced tracking capabilities for emerging threats into the BMDS. Using an agile development process, the team will enhance C2BMC’s threat characterization, tracking and advanced threat warning capabilities through integration with both new and enhanced sensor capabilities. The team will also further harden the overall cybersecurity posture of the system.

Lockheed Martin’s C2BMC team includes a partnership of highly responsive industry leaders that includes Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and many small businesses with expertise in key areas. The new contract extends the team’s performance on C2BMC through December 2022.

«The critical mission of missile defense requires a full view of incoming threats, actionable options for commanders and the ability to decisively and effectively respond», said JD Hammond, vice president of C4ISR Systems at Lockheed Martin. «C2BMC continues to showcase the benefits of a layered, cross domain defense that can help protect the U.S. and allies from increasing security concerns around the world».

There are C2BMC systems located at 36 locations worldwide, including U.S. Strategic, Northern, European, Indo-Pacific and Central Commands. The C2BMC system ties together elements of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Army, Navy and Air Force systems and sensors to provide a responsive and coherent global capability.

CUAS surveillance

The United States Army recently awarded Lockheed Martin three contracts to produce additional Q-53 systems and outfit the radar with enhanced capabilities, including extended range and Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS) surveillance. The flexible architecture of the Army’s most modern radar allows for these upgrades, which support adaptable growth of the system to address aircraft, drone and other threats in the future.

U.S. Army invests in additional Q-53 radars and capabilities

«We realize the warfighter needs new and improved capabilities. The Q-53 represents a fast path to respond to current and emerging threats», said Rick Herodes, director of the Q-53 program at Lockheed Martin. «The flexibility of the architecture continues to allow the Q-53 to provide capabilities far beyond the original mission and allows for additional upgrades in the future».

 

Full Rate Production

The Army awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for a third lot of 15 Full Rate Production systems. Once this contract is delivered the Army will own 189 Q-53 systems. The Lot 3 systems will continue to be produced using GAllium Nitride (GaN) transmit-receive modules. This will provide the radar with additional power, reliability and the possibility for enhanced capabilities including extended range, Counterfire Target Acquisition (CTA) and multi-mission, which delivers simultaneous CTA and air surveillance.

 

Surveillance

Lockheed Martin was also awarded a contract to enhance the Q-53’s CUAS capability. This true multi-mission capability delivers simultaneous counterfire, CUAS and air surveillance.

 

Extended Range

Lockheed Martin was also awarded a contract by the Army that will extend the operating range of the Q-53 system by utilizing recent next-generation technology insertions already available in the radar.

 

About the Q-53

The primary mission of the Q-53 is to protect troops in combat by detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying the location of enemy indirect fire in either 90 or 360-degree modes. The Q-53 has protected warfighters around the world since 2010.

Lockheed Martin uses an open GaN foundry model, leveraging relationships with commercial suppliers that utilize the power of the expansive telecommunications market to provide military-grade GaN modules while taking advantage of commercial cost efficiencies.

Billings

The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Billings (LCS-15), during a 10 a.m. ceremony Saturday, August 3, in Key West, Florida.

Navy commissioned Littoral Combat Ship USS Billings (LCS-15)

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Tester’s wife, Sharla, is the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Mrs. Tester gave the first order to «man our ship and bring her to life»»!

«The future USS Billings and her crew will play an important role in the defense of our nation and maritime freedom», said Secretary of the U.S. Navy Richard V. Spencer. «She stands as proof of what teamwork – from civilian to contractor to military – can accomplish. This fast, agile platform will deliver her motto, ‘Big Sky Over Troubled Waters,’ worldwide thanks to their efforts».

The ship is named in honor of Billings, the largest city in Montana, as well as the people and military veterans of the state. The USS Billings (LCS-15) is the first ship of its name in naval service.

Montana has a rich history and proud heritage of naval service, with thirty ships named over the years in honor of places and people, including the currently serving Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Helena (SSN-725) and the under-construction Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794). Montana also has one of the highest per capita veteran populations, according to the Veterans Administration.

The USS Billings (LCS-15) is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric «anti-access» threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The ship will be homeported in Mayport, Florida.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom-variant team is led by Lockheed Martin, Marinette, Wisconsin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, (for LCS-6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016 11-17-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016 01-12-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017 08-03-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016 04-18-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017 12-15-2018
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) 08-14-2018
USS Marinette (LCS-25) 03-27-2019
USS Nantucket (LCS-27)
USS Beloit (LCS-29)
USS Cleveland (LCS-31)

 

Delivery of Indianapolis

The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) during a ceremony at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, on July 26.

Navy accepts delivery of future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)

The future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) is the 9th Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) designed and built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette. Delivery marks the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the Navy. It is the final milestone prior to commissioning, which is planned for October 26 in Burns Harbor, Indiana. Indianapolis’s homeport will be Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

«This is a tremendous day for the Navy and our nation with the delivery of the future USS Indianapolis, which will carry into her future an important naval legacy», said LCS Program Manager Captain Mike Taylor. «I look forward to celebrating the commissioning of this great ship alongside the crew later this year. This ship will play an essential role in in carrying out our nation’s maritime strategy».

Honoring the capital and largest city in Indiana, LCS-17 it will be the fourth ship named Indianapolis in naval service. The first was a cargo ship (ID-3865) commissioned in 1918. The second was a Portland-class heavy cruiser (CA-35) that earned 10 battle stars for distinguished World War II service operating from Pearl Harbor and throughout the Pacific escorting convoys and attacking enemy submarines. Its service ended when the ship was sunk by a Japanese torpedo minutes after midnight July 30, 1945. Only 317 of the 1,196 sailors serving aboard the ship survived after five days afloat in the Pacific. The third USS Indianapolis was a Los Angeles-class attack submarine (SSN-697), decommissioned in 1998.

The future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) was christened on April 18, 2018. Sister ships the future USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) was christened on June 15 and the future USS Billings (LCS-15) is being commissioned on August 3. The future USS St. Louis (LCS-19), USS Cooperstown (LCS-23), USS Marinette (LCS-25), USS Nantucket (LCS-27), USS Beloit (LCS-29) and USS Cleveland (LCS-31) are all in varying stages of construction at FMM.

LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines and swarming small craft. They are capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016 11-17-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016 01-12-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017 Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016 04-18-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017 12-15-2018
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) 08-14-2018
USS Marinette (LCS-25) 03-27-2019
USS Nantucket (LCS-27)
USS Beloit (LCS-29)
USS Cleveland (LCS-31)

 

E-2D Program

Lockheed Martin’s Radar Sensor Systems market segment has been awarded a contract from Northrop Grumman worth over $600 million for Multi-Year Production (MYP) of 24 additional APY-9 radars for the U.S. Navy’s E-2D aircraft program. It’s also known as the Advanced Hawkeye program.

The E2-D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft (Photo courtesy – Navy Visual News Service)

The APY-9 radar program is nearing completion of a current five-year production contract in 2020, and this new award calls for another five years of production – with deliveries spanning from 2021 to 2025. The latest radar order will include Lockheed Martin’s new Advanced Radar Processor.

«We’re excited to have the opportunity to continue producing APY-9 radars for the Navy’s use on its Advanced Hawkeye aircraft and to continue supporting our customers with performance upgrades on a regular basis», Ken Kaminski, Airborne & National Surveillance Radar program director, said.

The APY-9 radar is an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) surveillance system that provides both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities designed to «see» smaller targets – and more of them – at a greater range, particularly in coastal regions and over land.

«The team has performed extremely well to date in terms of delivering all of our APY-9 systems on or ahead of schedule», Kaminski said.

Production work is performed at Lockheed Martin sites in Syracuse and Owego, New York, and Clearwater, Florida.

 

General Characteristics

Wingspan 24.56 m/80 feet 7 in
Width, wings folded 8.94 m/29 feet 4 in
Length overall 17.60 m/57 feet 8.75 in
Height overall 5.58 m/18 feet 3.75 in
Diameter of rotodome 7.32 m/24 feet
Weight empty 19,536 kg/43,068 lbs
Internal fuel 5,624 kg/12,400 lbs
Takeoff gross weight 26,083 kg/57,500 lbs
Maximum level speed 648 km/h/350 knots/403 mph
Maximum cruise speed 602 km/h/325 knots/374 mph
Cruise speed 474 km/h/256 knots/295 mph
Approach speed 200 km/h/108 knots/124 mph
Service ceiling 10,576 m/34,700 feet
Minimum takeoff distance 410 m/1,346 feet ground roll
Minimum landing distance 537 m/1,764 feet ground roll
Ferry range 2,708 km/1,462 NM/1,683 miles
Crew Members 5
Power Plant 2 × Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A, rated at 5,100 eshp each
Unrefueled >6 hours
In-flight refueling 12 hours

 

Multi-Band,
Multi-Mission

Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. were awarded a $7.2 million prototype agreement by the Defense Innovation Unit to develop a new Multi-Band, Multi-Mission (MBMM) prototype phased array as part of a broader initiative to modernize the existing Air Force Satellite Control Network and bring new technology faster to warfighters. MBMM enables multiple satellites to simultaneously connect with a single array antenna over multiple frequencies, a significant performance improvement compared to traditional single contact parabolic dishes.

Lockheed Martin, Ball and Kratos team on Advanced Phased Array for Air Force

The Lockheed Martin team is building prototype transmit and receive Electronically Steerable Arrays (ESA). Each array uses Ball’s advanced phased array technologies and supports L- and S-band frequencies initially. Signal processing is accomplished with Kratos’ digital Intermediate Frequency (IF) technology and cloud-enabled quantumRadio.

«MBMM is a smarter way to quickly and affordably scale satellite transmission while lowering long-term maintenance costs for the Air Force», said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Mission Solutions. «Today, when a parabolic antenna goes down, it can take days to repair; with MBMM, it will take hours and won’t take the entire site offline – that’s a tremendous advantage».

Extensive industry research comparing the costs of parabolic antennas to phased arrays over time show that while parabolic antennas have a lower upfront cost, they become much more expensive to maintain. Phased arrays avoid the mechanical maintenance and keyhole effects of parabolic antennas while providing graceful degradation and electronic agility in matching aperture performance to constellation demands.

«One electronically steered antenna can replace multiple dishes, enabling better performance, connectivity and affordability», said Rob Freedman, vice president and general manager, Tactical Solutions, Ball Aerospace.

«Software modems deployed in virtual machines gives MBMM an advantage because it is easy to scale signal processing on a much faster timeline than previously», said Frank Backes, senior vice president of Kratos Federal Space.

Future operational MBMM systems will offer new cyber resilience while reducing long-term sustainment costs for the Air Force. MBMM may eventually support multiple orbits from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) and can perform multiple missions at the same time, including Command & Control (C2), launch pad and ascent operations, radar and mission data transmission. The Lockheed Martin/Ball team is one of several teams building prototypes for the government.

Flight Test

The critical launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft was put to its hardest test on July 2, 2019, and it demonstrated its capability to pull the crew module and future astronauts to safety during a launch if there is an emergency. Lockheed Martin designed and built the launch abort system for the test and is also the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft for NASA.

Lockheed Martin and NASA successfully demonstrate Orion launch abort system in flight test

The Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test is a major test milestone that is enabling the safe passage of astronauts aboard Orion on the Artemis missions to the Moon and then Mars.

During the test this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, the Orion launch abort system, with a mock-up Orion capsule, was launched on a modified Peacekeeper missile. At 31,000 feet/9,449 m, or about six miles up, into the flight, the on-board computers initiated the abort sequence. The launch abort motors, generating 400,000 pounds/181,437 kg of thrust, then pulled the Orion capsule away from the rocket which was already traveling nearly 1,000 mph/1,609 km/h. Using its attitude control motor, the abort system then reoriented itself and jettisoned the Orion capsule using its jettison motor. The total test took less than three minutes.

«The test flight performed perfectly, not to mention it was really exciting to watch», said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin Space. «Hopefully this will be the last time we see this launch abort system ever work, but this test brings confidence that if needed on future Orion missions, it will safely pull the crew module and astronauts away from a life-threatening event during launch».

The Orion launch abort system is the highest thrust and acceleration escape system ever developed and is the only system of its kind in the world. It’s a major system that makes the Orion exploration-class spaceship the safest spacecraft ever built.

This is the second time the Orion launch abort system has been put to the test. The first flight test was in 2010 simulating a static abort from the launch pad. AA-2 is the final test and demonstration of the full-up launch abort system.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission to the Moon is being developed at the NASA Kennedy Space Center and will soon head into environmental testing – all in preparation for a 2020 launch.

NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test Launches atop Northrop Grumman Provided Booster