Thursday, September 08, 2011

ATK to test fire big rocket booster

NASA and ATK today plan to test fire a solid rocket booster that could be a key component of the next U.S. rocket to launch people on deep space exploration missions.

The five-segment motor, an extended version of the space shuttle's four-segment boosters, was originally intended to serve as the first stage of the Constellation program's Ares I crew launch vehicle.

That rocket has been cancelled, but Congress has asked NASA to apply as much shuttle and Constellation hardware as possible to a new heavy-lift rocket, called the Space Launch System, that could launch an Orion capsule to the moon, an asteroid or Mars.

NASA has yet to announce an architecture for the rocket, but ATK says its five-segment booster "is designed to power NASA’s next generation space launch system."

ATK has also proposed the commercially operated "Liberty" crew launcher, which NASA so far has not awarded any development funding.

The 4:05 p.m. EDT static firing in Promontory, Utha, is officially labeled Demonstration Motor-3, or DM-3, is the third in a series and the most instrumented yet, collecting data from 979 channels.

The last test chilled the booster's core to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This one will heat it to 90 degrees. Click here for updates and follow tweets at @ATKRocketNews.

A press conference will follow the test at 5:10 p.m. EDT.

IMAGE: Ignition of Development Motor-2: DM-2 is the largest and most powerful solid rocket motor designed for flight. It is the most heavily instrumented solid rocket motor in NASA history with a total of 53 test objectives measured through more than 760 instruments. DM-2 was chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit as the test was designed to assess performance at the lowest end of the temperature range. The Aug. 31 static test was conducted by ATK Aerospace Systems in Promontory, Utah. DM-2 is managed by the Ares Projects Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. (Credit: NASA)


deltadog said...


rss0246 said...

If this baby works, then, as Dr. Scott Pace of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute recently recommended, end the dumb "heavy lifter" controversy/deadlock by letting NASA finish its Ares I / Orion project -- America's simplest, soonest, safest, most powerful and most cost-efficient post-shuttle space access system.

eromni said...

The development of this Heavy Lift program is completely backwards. First, define a meaningful mission to go to the Moon or Mars. Not only flags and footsteps. Then come up with a reasonable timeline like JFK did. Then develop the hardware set required to accomplish. It worked for Apollo. This Shuttle style program of building hardware and then trying to find a mission to justify it has led to 38 years of being stuck in low earth orbit, two crews lost and no significant progess toward space exploration.

Dr. Dan Woodard said...

As John McCain clearly said in 2004, sending a handful of people to the moon with this hardware will cost at least $170B, and there is no way the (Republican, at that time) congress would approve it. Who's going to pay for this when everyone wants tax cuts?

Let's get real and develop smarter tech that can take people into space at a cost that makes sense. That's the goal of Lori Garver and the Obama administration.