NASA and ATK Successfully Test Ares First Stage Motor

Sep 10, 2009

NASA and industry engineers lit up the Utah sky Thursday with the initial full-scale, full-duration test firing of the first stage motor for the Ares I rocket. The Ares I is a crew launch vehicle in development for NASA's Constellation Program.

ATK Space Systems conducted the successful stationary firing of the five-segment solid development motor 1, or DM-1. ATK Space Systems, a division of Alliant Techsystems of Brigham City, Utah, is the prime contractor for the I first stage. Engineers will use the measurements gathered from the test to evaluate thrust, roll control, acoustics and motor vibrations. This data will provide valuable information as NASA develops the Ares I and Ares V vehicles. Another ground test is planned for summer 2010.

"With this test, we have taken lessons learned from many years of experience in solid development and have built on that foundation," said Alex Priskos, first stage manager for Ares Projects at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "Our team collected data from 650 sensors today to evaluate the motor's performance. This test and those that follow are essential to understanding as many aspects of our motor as possible, including strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately delivering the safest and most reliable motor possible."

This was the second attempt to conduct the two-minute rocket test at ATK's test stand in Promontory, Utah. The first test on Aug. 27 was canceled with 20 seconds left in the countdown because of a problem with a component of the ground controller unit, which sends power to the system that moves the nozzle during the test. Through a detailed investigation, the engineering team pinpointed the problem and replaced the faulty part.

The first stage motor will generate up to 3.6 million pounds of thrust, or lifting power, at launch. Although similar to the boosters that help power the to orbit, the Ares development motor includes several upgrades and technology improvements implemented by NASA and ATK engineers.

Motor upgrades from a shuttle booster include the addition of a fifth segment, a larger nozzle throat, and upgraded insulation and liner. The forward motor segment also has been improved for performance by adding another fin, or slot in the propellant. This change in the geometry of the propellant provides additional surface area for burning the solid fuel, which results in greater thrust.

The DM-1 nozzle throat is three inches wider in diameter than the nozzle used for the shuttle. The bigger nozzle throat allows the motor to handle the additional thrust from the five-segment booster. It also meets NASA's structural requirements to stay within the pressure capacity of the existing steel cases -- the large, barrel-shaped cylinders that house the fuel -- ensuring safety and reliability. Upgrades also were made to the insulation and liner that protect the first stage's steel cases.

The motor cases are flight proven hardware used on shuttle launches for more than three decades. The cases used in this ground test have collectively flown on 48 previous missions, including STS-1, the first shuttle flight.

Provided by JPL/ (news : web)

Explore further: Asteroid named for University of Utah makes public debut

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ares I Five Segment Development Motor on the Move

Apr 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- On April 16, NASA moved the first segment of the Ares I rocket's five segment development motor, or DM-1, from ATK Space System's production facility in Promontory, Utah, to the nearby test ...

Successful Rocket Motor Test Helps NASA's Shuttle and Ares I

Nov 02, 2007

NASA's Space Shuttle Program successfully fired a four-segment reusable solid rocket motor Thursday, Nov. 1, at a Utah test facility. The two-minute test provided important information for continued launches of the shuttle ...

NASA Successfully Tests Parachute for Ares Rocket

Mar 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA and industry engineers successfully completed the second drop test of a drogue parachute for the Ares I rocket. The test took place Feb. 28 at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground near Yuma, Ariz.

Rocket Motor Test Helps NASA's Shuttle and Ares I

Nov 17, 2006

NASA's Space Shuttle Program successfully fired a reusable solid rocket motor Thursday, Nov. 16, at a Utah facility. The two-minute test provided important information for nighttime shuttle launches and for the development ...

Recommended for you

Getting to the root of the problem in space

12 hours ago

When we go to Mars, will astronauts be able to grow enough food there to maintain a healthy diet? Will they be able to produce food in NASA's Orion spacecraft on the year-long trip to Mars? How about growing ...

The difference between CMEs and solar flares

15 hours ago

This is a question we are often asked: what is the difference between a coronal mass ejection (CME) and a solar flare? We discussed it in a recent astrophoto post, but today NASA put out a video with amazing graphics that explain ...

Scientific instruments of Rosetta's Philae lander

15 hours ago

When traveling to far off lands, one packs carefully. What you carry must be comprehensive but not so much that it is a burden. And once you arrive, you must be prepared to do something extraordinary to make ...

User comments : 0