Commercial Rocket Motors

Commercial Solid Rocket Motors

Defining possible for national security, science and commercial launch missions.

Northrop Grumman’s commercial solid rocket motor products build upon flight-proven heritage and leverage commonalities to continuously improve and expand motor families at a low-cost and with high reliability and repeatable performance.

CASTOR® Motors

solid rocket motor with Northrop Grumman logo

The CASTOR® rocket motor premiered as a second-stage motor to boost the Scout X-1 rocket for NASA in September 1960. Since then, Northrop Grumman has used the base technology from four generations of ballistic missile boosters, and the technology and experience from expendable launch vehicle programs, to expand the CASTOR series. The family of motors has grown to include ten flight-ready first-and second-stage and strap-on solid rocket motors that serve space launch, sounding rockets and the missile defense targets market. CASTOR motor variations support Northrop Grumman Minotaur-C vehicles, and the latest generation CASTOR 30XL motor propels the upper stage of Antares for cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station.

CASTOR Motor Series Propulsion Systems Product Catalog

Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM)

rocket launching

Northrop Grumman began developing the Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to increase launch capability for the Delta II launch vehicle, followed by the GEM 46, used on the Delta III and Delta II Heavy, and GEM 60 for the Delta IV Medium-Plus vehicle. The fourth-generation GEM 63 booster flew its inaugural flight on the Atlas V in November 2020, and the company began testing the extended-length GEM 63XL variant, the longest monolithic rocket motor produced to date, in August 2020 to serve the Vulcan Centaur vehicle.

Northrop Grumman continues to incorporate updated technologies and its unique filament winding process to leverage heritage, flight-proven designs for high quality, low-cost and reliable strap-on booster variations.

GEM Motor Series GEM Datasheet Propulsion Systems Product Catalog

GEM Videos

Orion Solid Rocket Motors

The Orion product line began with three stages designed for Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus® and grew to support various Taurus®, Pegasus XL, and Minotaur® configurations, as well as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor. New applications continue to evolve to support the Missile Defense Agency’s target vehicle configurations for the medium-range ballistic missile, intermediate-range ballistic missile, and intercontinental ballistic missile classes. The multiple configurations and applications of the Orion motor family demonstrate these flight-proven motors’ adaptability, reliability and versatility.

Since their first flight in 1990, Orion motors have supported over 11 different launch vehicles and over 100 launches from virtually every platform for a diverse range of customers and missions with zero flight failures. With 14 motor variations – 10 flight-proven and 2 qualified for flight – nearly 500 Orion motors have been delivered to customers.

Orion Motor Series Propulsion Systems Product Catalog
rocket testing and design facility

Other Commercial Services

With 60-plus years of experience, we have the infrastructure, technology and capabilities to support nearly every phase of space launch manufacturing and offer a variety of commercial services:

  • Nondestructive Testing: X-Ray
  • Nondestructive Testing: Hydro Proof
  • Aging and Surveillance
  • Conceptual Design and Analysis
  • Engineering Services
  • Flight Performance
  • Thrust Vector Control (TVC) Systems
  • Flight Termination Ordnance System (FTOS)
  • Virtual Reality Lab Services
  • Field Services and Support
  • Test Services

Test and Research Services
Northrop Grumman Test and Research Services specializes in custom testing of inert and energetic materials and components ranging from ammunition and hand grenades to the largest solid rocket motors in the world. The company’s cost structure can support small, commercial tests, large complex government contracts, and everything in-between.

Commercial Motors News & Articles

rocket taking off

Northrop Grumman’s 18th Cygnus Cargo Resupply Spacecraft Arrives at International Space Station

rocket being built

Northrop Grumman Delivers First GEM 63XL Solid Rocket Boosters to Support Vulcan First Flight

five peole standing in dirt mound with shovels

Northrop Grumman Invests in New Solid Rocket Motor Manufacturing Facilities in Magna, Utah

Northrop Grumman Teams with Firefly Aerospace to Develop Antares Rocket Upgrade and New Medium Launch Vehicle

satellite in space

Northrop Grumman SBIRS GEO-6 Payload Launched in Support of Missile Warning Satellite Mission for US Space Force

satellite in space

Northrop Grumman Supports Successful US Space Force-12 Mission from Liftoff to Orbit

Rocket lifting off

Northrop Grumman Finalizes Contract for GEM Solid Rocket Boosters

rocket lifting off

Northrop Grumman GEM 63 Solid Rocket Boosters Help Successfully Launch GOES-T Satellite aboard a ULA Atlas V Rocket