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ATK Conducts Successful Test Firing Of Space Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motor

The booster fired was more than seven years old -- the oldest RSRM ever fired.
by Staff Writers
Minneapolis MN (SPX) May 05, 2008
The Utah desert was filled with the sight and sound of power as Alliant Techsystems conducted a successful test firing of NASA's space shuttle reusable solid rocket motor (RSRM) as part of continuous testing to improve performance and ensure safety of the space shuttle and to aid development of the first stage of Ares I.

An average of 2.6 million pounds of thrust was generated during the test that lasted just over two minutes -- the same duration as when launching the space shuttle. The test included 32 objectives, with the main two being validation of the age-life certification of the motor and measuring the acoustics, or sound, emitted from the booster when it fires.

Validating the booster's age-life certification was performed by comparing it to its twin booster that was test fired three years ago. Both boosters were manufactured at the same time using the same components. They were shipped to the Kennedy Space Center and subsequently stacked then de-stacked before being returned to Utah.

The booster fired was more than seven years old -- the oldest RSRM ever fired. Shuttle motors are currently certified to be launched for up to five years after the propellant is cast. As a result of the test, ATK and NASA engineers will better understand what effect aging and exposure to different climates have on the motors.

Another main test objective is gathering data to aid in the development of the new Ares I vehicle and its launch pad. More than 20 microphones were installed at the test site to collect information that will help predict the lift-off acoustics for Ares I.

By collecting acoustic environment measurements, engineers can make better predictions of how the sound will affect the surrounding area. The shuttle program uses massive sprayers, called the water deluge system, to reduce the acoustic effects of the space shuttle propulsion systems as it lifts off. A similar system is being developed for the Ares I and data collected from this test will play an important role in the final design.

"Ground test firings provide valuable data to ensure the reliability and safety of space shuttle motors," said Ron Dittemore, president ATK Launch Systems. "The ground tests also provide critical information needed for the development of the first stage of Ares I."

Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that includes a first stage five-segment solid rocket booster patterned after the space shuttle four-segment booster. It includes an upper stage topped by the Orion crew capsule; its service module and launch abort system, patterned after the Apollo crew capsule and Saturn V launch vehicle that propelled humans to the moon.

NASA has slated it to replace the shuttle for missions to the International Space Station and to enable exploration of the moon, and eventually Mars and beyond.

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Walnut Creek CA (SPX) May 05, 2008
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