Feeds

Final shuttle rocket test goes without a bang

While NASA preps Discovery for Tuesday roll-out

High performance access to file storage

The final test firing of a space shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSRM) went without a bang yesterday, as NASA prepares to retire the shuttle fleet.

ATK picture of a shuttle launchSince the first test in July 1977, ATK Launch Systems has carried out 52 similar ground-based proving operations on the monster lifters, which have carried shuttles aloft 129 times.

Yesterday's event in Promontory, Utah, was "to ensure the safe flight of the four remaining space shuttle missions". The "flight support motor, or FSM-17", in NASA parlance, burned for around 123 seconds, while "a total of 43 design objectives were measured through 258 instrument channels".

David Beaman, RSRM project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, said: "Today's test was a great deal more than the successful conclusion to a series of highly successful NASA/ATK-sponsored static tests that began more than three decades ago.

"These tests have built a base of engineering knowledge that continued engineering development of the reusable solid rocket motor system and the continued safe and successful launch of space shuttles. They have provided an engineering model and lessons learned for additional applications in future launch systems."

ATK's description of the RSRM notes the beast is "just over 126 feet long and 12 feet in diameter", and weighs 1.25 million pounds of which 1.1 million pounds is propellant.

The blurb continues: "Each Space Shuttle launch requires the boost of two RSRMs to lift the 4.5-million-pound shuttle vehicle. From ignition to end of burn, each RSRM generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds and burns for approximately 123 seconds.

"By the time the twin RSRMs have completed their task, the Space Shuttle orbiter has reached an altitude of 24 nautical miles and is traveling at a speed in excess of 3,000 miles per hour. Before retirement, each RSRM can be used as many as 20 times."

A spin-off of the shuttle RSRM is the first-stage propulsion system for the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, and ATK is also tasked with providing the launch abort system for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.

The future of both is presumably in doubt following the apparent cancellation of the Constellation programme, although ATK says: "Crew transportation to the International Space Station is planned to begin no later than 2014. The first lunar excursion is scheduled for the 2020 timeframe."

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.