NASA Successfully Completes Solid Rocket Motor Test

Aug 17, 2005

NASA's Space Shuttle program successfully fired its first Production Rate Motor Tuesday, Aug. 16, at a Utah test facility. The two-minute static, or stationary, firing of the rocket motor was performed at ATK Thiokol, an Alliant Techsystems company, in Promontory, north of Salt Lake City.

The firing of the Production Rate Motor was one of several annual tests conducted by the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to qualify any proposed changes to the rocket motor and to guarantee that new materials meet safety requirements. These annual tests closely replicate a Space Shuttle launch.

The Aug. 16 test demonstrated process, material and design changes made to the Reusable Solid Rocket Motors produced during the past two years.

The motor firing also will allow NASA to further evaluate the performance of new sensors that read and retain detailed information - much faster than instruments now used - on pressures generated in the motor during a Shuttle launch.

"Testing such as this is important to ensure continued quality and performance," said Jody Singer, manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project, part of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at the Marshall Center.

The test satisfied 48 objectives, including the evaluation of new sensors, or Intelligent Pressure Transducers. Produced by Stellar Technology, of Amherst, N.Y., the transducers also were tested earlier this year on a modified motor at the Marshall Center.

In addition to evaluating the performance of the new sensors, the test also monitored an operational pressure transducer recently qualified for flight and flown on STS-114: Space Shuttle Return to Flight launched July 26.

These transducers, also made by Stellar Technology, help determine the time of separation of the Solid Rocket Boosters from the Orbiter.

The Production Rate Motor test also will allow NASA and ATK Thiokol engineers to further examine a more environmentally friendly insulation material and to gather information on a pressure-sensitive adhesive that may soon be used on the motor's joints.

Another objective of the test was to assess the performance of the propellant bore - the hole down the middle - of the rocket motor. When a motor is ignited, a controlled burn begins down its middle, creating the motor's thrust.

The test results will show how motors react during the first few seconds following ignition and provide engineers more information on the firing stability of motors - crucial information for human spaceflight.

Additionally, a powerful X-ray was used during the test to scrutinize how the motor nozzle performs during launch and ascent.

Static firings are part of the ongoing verification of components, materials and manufacturing processes required by the Space Shuttle program.

Test data will be analyzed and the results for each objective provided in a final report. Following the test, the motor's metal casings and its nozzle components will be refurbished for reuse.

Copyright 2005 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: Innovative use of pressurant extends MESSENGER's mission, enables collection of new data

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pilot's survival hailed as miracle, but not unique

Nov 07, 2014

As the doomed flight rocketed past the speed of sound some 8 miles (13 kilometers) high and then shattered seconds later, the odds of survival were slim. Remarkably, as sections of the cockpit, fuselage, ...

Virgin disaster is a reminder of deadly explosion

Nov 03, 2014

The loss of an experimental spaceship that broke up over the Mojave Desert, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another, has renewed criticism of the way the craft's designer and Virgin Galactic handled ...

Branson's rocketry goal is long-distance travel

Nov 02, 2014

The Virgin Galactic spaceship destroyed in a fatal accident high over the Mojave Desert was only designed to take tourists on a fleeting thrill ride into the lower reaches of space.

Recommended for you

The top 101 astronomical events to watch for in 2015

Dec 24, 2014

Now in its seventh year of compilation and the second year running on Universe Today, we're proud to feature our list of astronomical happenings for the coming year. Print it, bookmark it, hang it on your ...

NASA image: Frosty slopes on Mars

Dec 24, 2014

This image of an area on the surface of Mars, approximately 1.5 by 3 kilometers in size, shows frosted gullies on a south-facing slope within a crater.

Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?

Dec 24, 2014

Bright stars top Christmas trees in Christian homes around much of the world. The faithful sing about the Star of Wonder that guided the wise men to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.