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Advanced Engineering 2018

Space Shuttle engineering motor test

11 November 2001

A full-scale static test of an engineering test motor for the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster took place Thursday, Nov. 1, at a Utah test facility.

Results from the test -- conducted at the Promontory, Utah, facilities of ATK Thiokol Propulsion, an Alliant Techsystems Inc., company -- will be used to demonstrate the capabilities and limits on process, material, component and design in the Shuttle's Reusable Solid Rocket Motor.

The Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., fires engineering test motors as part of Shuttle's on-going safety program to verify materials and manufacturing processes. The Marshall Center requires the static - or stationary - test before new materials or processes are included in motors flown on the Space Shuttle.

On the motor currently being tested, there are 72 test objectives, with a total of 446 instrumentation channels that collect data for evaluation of these objectives. The two-minute test duration is the same length of time that the motors perform during Shuttle flights.

The firing tested several potential nozzle improvements, including: a new adhesive that bonds metal parts to phenolic parts; new environmentally friendly solvents; a new nozzle ablative insulation; carbon fiber rope thermal barriers in three of the six nozzle joints; and a modified bolted assembly design on the No. 5 nozzle joint.