ATK fire up their night booster

by Chris Bergin

Alliant Techsystems (ATK) have successfully conducted a static firing of a Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSRM) – FSM-13 – last night in Utah.

The rare nighttime firing, watched by thousands of spectators, had a dual purpose of collecting imagery data for Shuttle night launches, while adding to their continuing evaluations of their role in the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle.
Huge amounts of VSE related insider news and presentations are available for download on L2. See list at the end of this article.


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Firing for the two minute duration the boosters are designed for, the nighttime test was the first since 1992.

The next Shuttle launch – STS-116 with Discovery – will be the first night launch since the loss of Columbia, and NASA will be evaluating data from the test to aid their ability to check for foam liberation and debris threats during the ascent stage of the next – and future – launches.

NASA installed 31 cameras on the test range to ensure that they have sufficient imagery. The data will be used to test various techniques and camera settings for nighttime imagery captured in future launches.

‘ATK and NASA are committed to continued testing in order to ensure the safety of the Shuttle and crew,’ said Ron Dittemore, President of ATK Launch Systems. ‘We are equally committed to a robust test schedule that supports NASA’s development of the new Ares I launch vehicle.’

Ares I is the vehicle that will replace the Shuttle, with a debut launch currently set to launch in 2014. The static firing was also used to assist data on what will be the Ares I Roll Control System, measuring vibration, acoustic and roll-torque. The Ares I will use a five segment version of the booster.

This information will provide valuable data to help NASA and ATK determine the appropriate size of the roll control system for the Ares I crew launch vehicle.

‘This is a great example of the true synergy between the Shuttle program and the Ares project,’ Dittemore added. ‘Thanks to this teamwork, we are able to collect data and perform analysis early in the development stage of Ares I.’

Thursday night’s test provided data on numerous process, material and design changes planned for shuttle solid rocket motors, including a propellant structural redesign that more evenly distributes loads and improves safety during storage and transportation; an improved adhesive bonding process to eliminate insulation voids and increase bond strength; and a new nozzle liner material to replace a material that is no longer available.

Stress data was also gathered on an instrumented external tank attachment ring, which connects the solid rocket booster to the shuttle’s external fuel tank.

“Full-scale static testing such as this is a key element of the ‘test before you fly’ standard and ensures continued quality and performance,” said Jody Singer, manager of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project, part of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall.

L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation:  Ares I-1 Test Flight Plan (full outline) Presentation. Ares I extra solids graphics and info. Ares I troubleshooting latest. Ares I Reference Trajectory. Boeing’s STS to Ares – Lessons Learned Presentation. Latest Ares I and Ares V baseline Configuration image and data. CLV DAC-1C (Changes to CLV Upper Stage).

Ares I-1: Four Seg+Dummy ‘Tuna Can’ stage. Ascent Developmental Flight Test Presentation. CLV Pad 39B Handover Info and Latest. New images of CLV on top of new MLP and LUT. Lockheed Martin CEV/Orion Updates. Constellation news updates. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV.

90 Minute Video of Constellation all hands meeting. CLV TIM Meeting Information. CLV/CaLV Infrastructure, Timelines and Information. Escape System Trade Study Presenation.

CEV-CLV Design Analysis Cycle Review (DAC-2) Presentation. Constellation SRR updates. CLV Stick – Troubleshooting/Alternatives/Updates. New CEV Images (include abort mode). Flight Design and Dynamics Division CEV update. CLV Mono-propellant RCS system. CEV pressurisation system review. CLV/CEV Configuration Images. The 2×3 Seg SRB Crew Launch Vehicle Option Presentation…plus more.

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