In its continued effort to ensure safety of the Space Shuttle, and to prepare for the development of Ares I, Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) successfully conducted a test firing today of NASA's four segment Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSRM).
The test included 32 objectives using more than 200 instrumentation channels. The RSRM generated 2.6 million pounds of average thrust, the equivalent to 12 jumbo jets at full throttle. The motor fired for approximately two minutes -- the same duration as the motor firings for actual Space Shuttle missions.
One of the test objectives was to take measurements of the external sound or acoustics created as the motor ignites. More than 25 microphones were located near the motor to record the data from the firing. This information will be used to predict the motor's acoustic effects and aid in the final design of the launch structure for Ares I.
Data collected from today's test will help support NASA's Constellation Program, which is developing the Orion spacecraft and Ares I and V launch vehicles. The new launch vehicles will support missions to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond.
"We are continuing our testing efforts for the Shuttle program as well as aiding in the development of the Ares launch vehicles," said Ron Dittemore, president, ATK Launch Systems. "This is a good example of how NASA is leveraging its expertise and workforce to prepare for future space flight programs."
A major test objective was to demonstrate the thrust vector control (TVC) system operation using only one of two Hydraulic Power Units (HPU). Normally both HPUs are running, providing backup power to the TVC actuators. The test with only one HPU will help characterize capabilities and system margins for the future.
Another objective of the motor firing was to gather information on aging and environment conditions relative to motor component life. Currently RSRMs used to launch the Shuttle are limited to a shelf life of five years. The four segments used in this test are over six years old and were exposed to the Florida climate for a significant period of time. ATK and NASA engineers will better understand what effect aging and exposure to different climates have on the motors from the data gathered.
ATK is a $4.1 billion advanced weapon and space systems company employing approximately 16,500 people in 21 states. News and information can be found on the Internet at http://www.atk.com.
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