Orbital Sciences Corp. in Chandler will produce 20 high-tech rockets designed to take out enemy missiles launched against the United States, thanks to an $823 million add-on to a contract between The Boeing Co. and the federal government.
Boeing commissioned Orbital Sciences in 2002 to build five "missile defense interceptor" boosters as part of a Boeing-U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract worth $6 billion to $13 billion, depending on which options are exercised.
The contract was revised this week to add 15 more rockets, bringing the total value of Orbital's subcontract to more than $625 million, company spokesman Barron Beneski said. "It's obviously extraordinarily significant for us," Beneski said.
Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences has nearly doubled its Chandler work force in the past two years to accommodate the Boeing contract and other projects. The company went from about 400 workers in late 2001 to nearly 800.
The interceptor rockets are fired from missile silos and are designed to take out incoming enemy missiles. Beneski said President Bush has committed to putting 20 interceptors in place by the end of 2005, which prompted the contract modification.
Orbital Sciences expects revenue of $570 million this year, and as much as $650 million in 2004. The company also produces rockets for launching satellites into space.
Raytheon Co. in Tucson will build the "kill vehicle" that Orbital's booster will carry, and other parts of the missile will be made in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts and Virginia.