WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is pulling the plug on a billion-dollar project to build a better weapon to destroy incoming missiles by slamming into them in space.

Officials said Wednesday the decision to cancel the contract for a new “kill vehicle” could signal a new direction for an important aspect of missile defense.

Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said the Boeing contract is terminated as of Thursday. He said the decision to cancel it was “due to technical design problems.”

The device known as a “redesigned kill vehicle” was to replace the existing “kill vehicle” used on rockets that are based mainly in Alaska to intercept intercontinental-range missiles launched from North Korea.

In May, Boeing was ordered to stop work on the project, pending a new way forward.