Ares I Solid Rocket Motor Test - An Engineer's Aspect


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Friday, September 11, 2009

Ares I Solid Rocket Motor Test

The solid rocket motor test went off without a hitch yesterday--very exciting!!!

"NASA tested the new first-stage solid rocket motor for the Ares I rocket. The static firing of the five-segment solid motor, designated development motor -1 was conducted at the ATK test facility in Promontory, Utah."

Video Courtesy of


Culminating Four Years of Progress Ares I is on Track to Support the Next Generation of U.S. Space Travel

PROMONTORY, Utah, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) made history today as they conducted the first test of the Ares I first stage five-segment development solid rocket motor, marking the first steps into a new era of space exploration. It is the most powerful and reliable solid rocket booster in the world, and is planned for NASA's Ares I and Ares V rockets.

The initial data showed the motor performed as designed, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust and burning for over two minutes. The first stage motor for Ares I measures 12 feet in diameter and 154 feet in length. During the test sensors and gauges collected 650 channels of data to accomplish 46 test objectives. The data from this test will help validate how Ares I will perform in flight.

"This test not only validates the design upgrades from the space shuttle program, it is a testament to how NASA and its contractor teams work together to ensure success," said Mike Kahn, executive vice president, ATK Space Systems. "This dedicated and experienced team has sustained a rigorous and disciplined schedule to develop our next-generation crew launch vehicle - which remains within budget and on schedule - culminating four years of progress."

The Ares I first stage has been under development since 2005. Based on the design of the Space Shuttle's four-segment booster, the first stage differs from its predecessor in the addition of a fifth segment, changes to the propellant grain, a larger nozzle opening and upgraded insulation and liner. All of these combined modifications provide higher performance.

"This ground test provides us with valuable operational data to verify our computer models and other design points," said Kahn. "Along with data collected from the Ares I-X flight test this fall, we will further mature the first stage design."

The Ares I first stage cases remain the same as those used for more than three decades on the Space Shuttle Program. The cases used in this ground test have collectively flown on 48 previous shuttle missions, including STS-1, the very first flight.

"Ares I is the safest launch vehicle ever developed. By using shuttle boosters to derive the design of the Ares I first stage we were able to leverage decades of ground tests and shuttle flight processes," said Kahn. "The infrastructure, knowledge and lessons learned that we have transferred to the Ares I first stage program will continue to ensure the success of the human spaceflight program for decades to come."

NASA's Ares I will launch the Orion crew exploration vehicle for missions to the International Space Station and to other destinations beyond low earth orbit (LEO). With a launch abort system, in-line configuration and simple design of one solid rocket motor and one liquid engine, Ares I will be 10 times safer for the crew than any other system.

The successful test followed postponement of a test on August 27 relating to faulty ground testing equipment.

ATK is the prime contractor for the first stage five-segment solid rocket motor and provides the main abort motor and attitude control motor for Orion's Launch Abort system.

ATK is a premier aerospace and defense company with more than 18,000 employees in 22 states, Puerto Rico and internationally, and revenues of approximately $4.8 billion. News and information can be found on the Internet at

Certain information discussed in this press release constitutes forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although ATK believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be achieved. Forward-looking information is subject to certain risks, trends and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Among those factors are: the challenges and assumptions related to the development of next-generation human space launch capabilities; changes in governmental spending, budgetary policies and product sourcing strategies; the company's competitive environment; the terms and timing of awards and contracts; and economic conditions. ATK undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements. For further information on factors that could impact ATK, and statements contained herein, please refer to ATK's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Media Contact: Investor Contact:

Trina Patterson Jeff Huebschen
Phone: 801-699-0943 Phone: 952-351-2929
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Trina Patterson, +1-801-699-0943,, or Jeff Huebschen,
+1-952-351-2929,, both of ATK