"Orbital ATK will manage and be responsible for providing all… services and supplies for the Sounding Rockets Program," the release said on Wednesday. "This includes the design, fabrication… and flight qualification testing of sub-orbital payloads, as well as the provision of launch vehicles."
Sounding rockets carry scientific instruments into space along a parabolic trajectory and stay in space for five to 20 minutes at lower vehicle speeds in order to carry out scientific experiments, the release explained.
The small rockets are useful because there are some important regions of space that are too low for satellites to access. The vehicles provide the only platforms that can carry out measurements in there, the release pointed out.
Under the contract, Ornbital ATK will conduct an estimated 18 launches per year throughout the period of performance, the release noted.