NASA's Marshall Center Successfully Tests 48-inch Solid Rocket Motor

Mar 25, 2005

A scaled-down version of the Space Shuttle's Reusable Solid Rocket Motor was successfully tested March 24 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The 28-second firing tested a 48-inch-diameter, modified NASA motor.
Space Shuttle's solid rocket motors are periodically tested to ensure they can withstand environments similar to those generated by an actual motor during flight. For example, the motor's insulation materials must withstand chamber gas temperatures that reach 5,652 degrees Fahrenheit during a Shuttle launch.

Testing a sub-scale version of the Shuttle's Solid Rocket Motor is a versatile, quick-turnaround and low-cost way to determine the performance of new materials and instrumentation. Test results will be used to evaluate the performance of internal replacement insulation materials in the aft dome of the motor. The best performing insulation candidate will be tested in a full-scale motor test firing in July 2006.

The test is expected to further evaluate the performance of the Intelligent Pressure Transducer, a gauge which samples motor pressure 25 times faster than instruments now used.

The test, replicating launch conditions, is part of the Shuttle program's ongoing verification of components, materials and manufacturing processes required by the Space Shuttle Program and the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office at the Marshall Center.

"Testing continues to be a key element to the success of the Solid Rocket Motor, providing valuable information on design, process and material changes," said Jody Singer, manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office.

Engineers from the Marshall Center Engineering Directorate and Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office conducted the test. ATK Thiokol of Promontory, Utah, manufactures the Shuttle's Solid Rocket Motor. The motor test -- used to qualify any proposed changes to the motor -- is a stepping stone to a Flight Support Motor test performed at ATK Thiokol's Test Services facility in Promontory.

At 126 feet long and 12 feet in diameter, the Shuttle's Reusable Solid Rocket Motor is the largest solid rocket motor ever flown and the first designed for reuse. During its two-minute burn at liftoff, each motor generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds. During Space Shuttle flights, Solid Rocket Motors provide 80 percent of the thrust during the first two minutes of flight.

Explore further: Voyager spacecraft might not have reached interstellar space

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's 'flying saucer' readies for first test flight

Jun 03, 2014

( —It only sounds like science fiction. To test a new technology for landing heavy payloads on Mars, NASA is about to drop a flying-saucer shaped vehicle from a helium balloon high above Earth' ...

NASA successfully tests five-segment solid rocket motor

Sep 09, 2011

NASA and ATK Space Systems successfully completed a two-minute, full-scale test of Development Motor-3 (DM-3), Thursday, Sept. 8. DM-3 is NASA's largest and most powerful solid rocket motor ever designed for ...

Recommended for you

Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

46 minutes ago

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always ...

Video: The diversity of habitable zones and the planets

52 minutes ago

The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from the exclusivity of exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization. A key step towards this characterization is the determination of which planets occupy the Habitable ...

Ultra-deep astrophoto of the Antenna Galaxies

55 minutes ago

You might think the image above of the famous Antenna Galaxies was taken by a large ground-based or even a space telescope. Think again. Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen from New Zealand compiled a total ...

Video: A dizzying view of the Earth from space

55 minutes ago

We've got vertigo watching this video, but in a good way! This is a sped-up view of Earth from the International Space Station from the Cupola, a wraparound window that is usually used for cargo ship berthings ...

NEOWISE spots a comet that looked like an asteroid

56 minutes ago

Comet C/2013 UQ4 (Catalina) has been observed by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft just one day after passing through its closest approach to the sun. The comet ...

User comments : 0