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Northrop Grumman buys Scaled Composites

Northrop Grumman has increased its 40 percent ownership in Scaled Composites, the Mojave, California, company that launched SpaceShipOne into suborbit, to 100 percent. In effect, Northrop has purchased a "Skunk Works" like the one owned by Lockheed Martin where rapid prototyping and innovation is possible.

Scaled Composites has worked with Northrop on many projects, including a scale model of the B-2 bomber (Northrop Grumman was the prime contractor), a surveillance radar tested on the Scaled Composites Proteus high-altitude aircraft, and the X-47A unmanned aerial vehicle, designed for launch from aircraft carriers. A Northrop spokesman said the current Scaled Composites leadership will remain at the helm and efforts to develop a suborbital space tourism business with Virgin Group will continue. The technology from that program may help Northrop compete when NASA goes shopping for a space shuttle replacement. Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan sold and repurchased the company twice since it was founded in 1982. - Alton K. Marsh

August 29, 2007

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