-- Successful Mach 3-Plus Test Flight Showcases Flexibility of Company’s Coyote Program --
-- 82 Ramjet-Powered Coyote Vehicles Now Delivered or In Production at Arizona Facility --
(Dulles, VA 12 July 2010) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it successfully launched the “High Diver” Coyote supersonic target vehicle from San Nicolas Island, California, validating its suitability for future high-altitude naval threat simulations and anti-missile response system tests.
The Coyote High Diver (or Coyote HD) vehicle was rail-launched from San Nicolas Island at about 9:00 a.m. PDT on 8 July 2010. During the exercise, the ramjet-powered Coyote HD ascended to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet, where it reached a cruising speed of approximately Mach 3.3. At the end of its 110 mile long flight, the vehicle executed a planned 40-degree unpowered dive to its objective point near the ocean’s surface.
Like its predecessor, the Coyote supersonic sea-skimming target (SSST) vehicle (or Coyote SS), which has completed 17 low-altitude Mach 2.5-class flights since 2003, the Coyote HD is a threat-representative target for the U.S. Navy. The Coyote HD has been upgraded from its original configuration with improved thermal protection, a new instrumentation system to collect telemetry data during flight, and guidance software modifications that enables the vehicle to operate at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.
“Last week’s successful test of the Coyote HD target vehicle demonstrates important new performance capabilities of our target vehicles,” said Keven Leith, Orbital’s Vice President of Naval Operations. “Without question, the High Diver’s combination of altitude, speed, range and accuracy showcases the ability of our Coyote target vehicle family to meet a wide range of the Navy’s defense systems testing needs.”
Coyote Program Update
Orbital was awarded an initial development contract in 2000 to meet the Navy’s requirement for an affordable SSST system to simulate high-speed anti-ship cruise missiles for fleet training and weapon systems research, development, test and evaluation. Orbital and the Navy completed the development phase of the program with five successful development test flights in 2003 and 2004. Over the last five years, an additional 12 operational launches of Coyote SS vehicles have taken place from San Nicolas Island in California. Orbital has completed and delivered, or currently is producing, a total of 82 Coyote targets in various configurations.
The Coyote HD target missile design integrates a four-inlet, solid-fuel ducted-rocket ramjet propulsion system into a compact missile airframe 18 feet long and 14 inches in diameter. Ramjet supersonic takeover speed is achieved using a decommissioned Navy MK 70 solid rocket motor for the first stage. Rail-launched from naval test and training ranges, the highly maneuverable Coyote HD achieves cruise speeds in excess of Mach 3 following the separation of the MK 70 first-stage booster and can reach cruising altitudes of up to 50,000 feet.
Orbital developed and is manufacturing Coyote vehicles at its launch vehicle engineering and production facility in Chandler, AZ. Major subcontractors include Aerojet Corporation in Gainesville, VA and Sacramento, CA, for the SSST solid-fuel ducted-rocket motor.
Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories. More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com.
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Note to Editors: High-resolution images of the Coyote vehicle can be found at: http://www.orbital.com/images/high/Coyote_flt.jpg.