Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NASA, ATK set for second test of Constellation booster

NASA and contractor ATK today plan to conduct the second test firing of the five-segment solid rocket booster designed to launch the Constellation program's Ares I rocket.

At ATK Space Systems' test facility in Promontory, Utah, the booster called Development Motor-2, or DM-2, is set to ignite at 11:27 a.m. EDT and burn for two minutes, producing a maximum thrust of 3.6 million pounds, or 22 million horsepower.

Live NASA TV coverage, which you can watch here, starts at 11:20 a.m. The test will be followed by a 12:30 p.m. EDT news conference.

ATK has been developing the larger version of its four-segment shuttle booster to serve as the first stage for the Ares I crew launch vehicle.

That rocket is expected to be cancelled in favor of commercial crew taxis, but NASA says the upgraded motor is "highly transferable" to heavy-lift vehicle designs. A five-and-a-half segment booster was to help launch Constellation's Ares V cargo launcher.

Today's test comes a year after the successful first test of the five-segment booster, called DM-1. The booster will be chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to test its performance in low temperatures and analyze new materials.

ATK says a total of 53 design objectives will be measured through more than 760 instruments on the booster. That makes it the most heavily instrumented solid rocket motor ever, NASA says.

IMAGE: The Ares I rocket's first-stage development motor, or DM-1, completed its first successful test firing Sept. 10, 2009. The flame exits the motor at Mach 3 and the test firing lasted for 122 seconds. DM-1 is managed by the Ares Projects at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The stationary test firing was conducted by ATK Space Systems, a division of Alliant Techsystems of Brigham City, Utah, the prime contractor for the Ares I first stage. Credit: ATK.


Anonymous said...

What Aries I crew launch vehicle?

Anonymous said...

why ?