NASA and Orbital ATK have conducted the first qualification ground test of the five-segment rocket motor that will be used for NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), which is being designed to enable exciting new exploration missions throughout the solar system.
The successful pre-flight test, known as Qualification Motor 1 (QM-1), is an important milestone in validating the rocket motor’s use for SLS and its deep space missions. Initial test data indicates the motor performed as designed and delivered the anticipated performance. The rocket motor produced approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust (equivalent to 22 million horsepower) and fired for just over two minutes. More data will be available as post-test analysis is accomplished on the 102 design objectives that are supported by 531 instrumentation channels.
“This motor firing is the first of two qualification tests to certify the motor configuration for NASA’s Space Launch System,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division, and four-time space shuttle astronaut. “The data from today and from our three development motor tests, along with information we have collected on hundreds of predecessor motors over the past three decades, confirms this is the most capable and powerful solid rocket motor ever designed.”