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: Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

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

How commercial spaceflight makes a profit

2 hours ago

There's a big difference in thinking between governments and the private companies that participate in space. While entities such as NASA can work on understanding basic human health or exploring the universe ...

The case for a mission to Mars' moon Phobos

2 hours ago

Ask any space enthusiast, and almost anyone will say humankind's ultimate destination is Mars. But NASA is currently gearing up to go to an asteroid. While the space agency says its Asteroid Initiative will ...

Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

21 hours ago

A frozen fuel pipe in the upper stage of a Soyuz launcher likely caused the failure last month to place two European navigation satellites in orbit, a source close to the inquiry said Wednesday.

Cyanide ice in Titan's atmosphere

23 hours ago

Gigantic polar clouds of hydrogen cyanide roughly four times the area of the UK are part of the impressive atmospheric diversity of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, a new study led by Leiden Observatory, ...

User comments : 0