Success in ground test of world’s largest solid rocket motor


Orbital ATK and NASA successfully completed the second of two booster qualification motor tests (QM-2) for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) on June 28, 2016. Preliminary data indicates that the motor performed well and met test objectives.

Orbital ATK developed the two five-segment rocket boosters for NASA’s SLS, a heavy-lift rocket designed to enable new deep space exploration missions. For the QM-2 test, over the past month, Orbital ATK technicians pre-chilled the rocket motor to 40°F (4°C) to test its lower temperature capabilities against the expected temperature range in which the SLS may operate. The first qualification motor, QM-1, completed a successful test last spring that validated motor performance at the upper end of the propellant temperature range (90°F).

In the test stand, the QM-2 motor is 154ft (47m) long and 12ft (3.7m) in diameter, making it the largest human-rated solid rocket motor in existence. Each booster produces 3,600,000 lb (1,600,000kg) of maximum thrust and burns for 126 seconds. The test measurements from more than 530 data channels will be used to analyze motor performance, acoustics, motor vibrations, nozzle modifications, insulation upgrades, Booster Separation Motor structural dynamic response and nozzle vectoring parameters.

Based on the design heritage of the flight-proven solid rocket boosters used on NASA’s Space Shuttle, the SLS five-segment motors incorporate new technologies and updated materials. Orbital ATK is also providing the launch abort motor and attitude control motor for the Orion spacecraft.

The first test flight of SLS and Orion together (un-crewed), is scheduled for late 2018.

Click here to see the the solid booster ground test carried out by Orbital ATK and NASA.

July 1, 2016

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