NASA booster readied for June tests


Orbital ATK, in partnership with NASA, has completed installing the second Space Launch System (SLS) booster qualification motor, QM-2, in a specialized test stand in Utah, USA, in preparation for a June 28 static-fire test.

QM-2 is the second of two Orbital ATK-developed motors to support qualification of the boosters for NASA’s SLS, which is a heavy-lift rocket designed to enable exciting new deep space exploration missions. The first qualification motor, QM-1, completed a successful test last spring.

“Testing before flight is critical to ensure reliability and safety when launching humans into space,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division. “This ground test is an important step in qualifying NASA’s new five-segment solid rocket motor, the largest solid rocket motor ever built for flight, for planned SLS missions to deep space.”

While last year’s QM-1 test validated motor performance at the upper end of the propellant temperature range, Orbital ATK personnel are cooling QM-2 to 40°F (4°C) to test its lower temperature capabilities against the required temperature range. Lying horizontally in the test stand, the motor is 154ft (47m) in length and 12ft (3.7m) in diameter. When fired, QM-2 will produce 3,600,000 lb (1,630,000kg) of maximum thrust.

Orbital ATK and NASA will use measurements from more than 530 data channels to evaluate motor performance, acoustics, motor vibrations, nozzle modifications, insulation upgrades, booster separation motors, structural dynamic response, and nozzle vectoring parameters. The full-scale motor test will further improve the safety, technology and knowledge of solid rocket motors.

The SLS five-segment motor is based on the design heritage of the flight-proven solid rocket boosters used on NASA’s space shuttle and incorporates new technologies and updated materials.

The first test flight of SLS and Orion together, called Exploration Mission-1, is scheduled for 2018. EM-1 will use two of Orbital ATK’s five-segment solid rocket boosters.

Click here for a video of the 2015 QM-1 testing. 

May 13, 2016

Share this story:

About Author

Comments are closed.