Boeing and the Air Force Research Lab earlier this year successfully completed the first flight test of the CHAMP missile, a new high-powered microwave weapon, at the Utah Test and Training Range, according to prime contractor Boeing. “It was as close to the real thing as we could get for this test,” said Keith Coleman, Boeing’s CHAMP program manager in the company’s Sept. 22 release. “This demonstration,” he continued, “sets the stage for a new breed of nonlethal, but highly effective weapon systems.” More tests are scheduled for later this year. CHAMP stands for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. The missile is designed to neutralize electronic targets with its HPM payload while minimizing or eliminating the collateral damage that kinetic weapons may cause. Boeing won a three-year, $38 million contract in April 2009 to develop CHAMP under an Office of the Secretary of Defense-sponsored demonstration.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.