ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) have successfully completed a cold-temperature ground test of a graphite epoxy motor (GEM-60) solid rocket unit, marking an important milestone in its vectorable nozzle qualification.
ATK Aerospace Group Defense & Commercial Division vice president and general manager Scott Lehr said: "This motor firing is an important test for ATK, as we have expanded the use of our in-house capabilities."
The static motor firing test was aimed at measuring the performance of the motor at cold temperatures to qualify the installation of a new vectorable nozzle on it and its insulation at low operational temperatures.
ATK said that the test would also allow an outside supplier to manufacture a transitioning nozzle for the company.
The 60in motor, which will power ULA's future Delta IV launchers, was cooled to a 30F core temperature, which delivered the planned output by generating 270,000lb of thrust and blazed for 90 seconds during the test.
ULA program operations vice president Mark Wilkins said: "Ground tests are an important part of qualifying modifications and upgrades to flight hardware, as well as ensuring mission success on future flights."
ATK had developed the GEM-60 strap-on booster for ULA in 2000 to expand Delta IV's payload-to-orbit capability and the first two-motor configurations have boosted maiden launch of Delta IV in November 2002, as well as the initial four powered the launcher in 2009.
The company is planning to conduct the next GEM-60 motor test in September 2012.
Image: ULA's Delta IV launcher at Space Launch Complex-37. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.