The DM-3 five-segment solid rocket booster during the Sept. 8, 2011 static test firing (Credits: ATK).

ATK  conducted a third successful ground test of their new solid rocket motor on September 8, 2011 at the company’s motor proving grounds near Promontory, Utah. The test, whose denomination is  Development Motor (DM-3), is considered an important milestone in validation of a rocket that could be used in future heavy lift and commercial launch vehicles.

The main test objectives from today’s static motor firing were measuring the five-segment rocket’s performance and verifying the performance of new materials in the motor joints at hot temperatures. Intentional flaws were introduced in the joint to allow hot gas to penetrate into part of the robust joint to verify joint performance.

According to ATK, initial test data indicate the motor performed as designed, producing approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, or 22 million horsepower, and burning for just over two minutes: “This milestone is another step towards completing our Critical Design Technical Interchange activity this fall,” said  Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of ATK Aerospace Systems, Space Launch Systems.

The DM-3, measuring 3,65 meters in diameter and almost 50 meters in length, is a five segment derivative of the four segment Space Shuttle booster, upgraded to incorporate technologies and material that were not used on the Shuttle SRB. According to ATK, the new technologies allows a 30 percent power improvement, as well as cost and weight saving.  “This performance makes the five-segment a great solution for heavy lift launch vehicles,” said Precourt.

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Andrea Gini

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Andrea Gini is a content strategy consultant specialized in companies of the space sector. He is founder of Space Safety Magazine, where he held the position of Editor-in-Chief until March 2015. Between 2011 and 2013 he worked in the European Space Agency in the Independent Safety Office, which overviews the utilization of the International Space Station. He previously worked as Software Developer, IT Consultant, and trainer of Java-related technologies. Andrea holds a BSc and an MSc in computer science from the University of Milano, a Master in Communication of Science from the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste and a MSc in Space Studies from the International Space University.