Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Solid rocket development motor

Preparations are under way for the testing of NASA's next-generation, five segment solid rocket development motor DM-2 in September. The test is designed to advance the understanding, safety, technology and capability of solid rocket motors.

The five-segment DM-2 motor capable of producing 22 million horsepower and generating as much as 3.6 million pounds of thrust was developed by ATK Space Systems, a division of Alliant Techsystems of Brigham City, Utah, the prime contractor for the solid rocket motor ,and is being assembled at ATK's test stand in Promontory, Utah. This will be the second, full-scale, full-duration test of the new development motor, which follows the successful test of DM-1 last fall.

"The successful DM-1 test provided our team with great results," said Andy Schorr, first stage, five-segment motor lead for Ares Projects at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "All performance measurements were within specified limits and 46 total objectives, covering each significant design feature of the motor, were met.

During this "cold motor" test, DM-2's overall temperature will be lowered to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to validate the motor's performance. This is in contrast to the DM-1 test firing which was conducted at ambient temperature. As the test is conducted, technicians will collect data from 759 sensors to assess the motor's performance and validate motor enhancements. Measurements gathered will be used to evaluate thrust, roll control, acoustics, motor vibrations, nozzle modifications and insulation upgrades.

A development test motor is used to simulate conditions experienced in flight. It offers engineers an opportunity to better assess the strength of the motor's current design, spot any flaws in the new designs, verify new materials and certify manufacturing processes.