Five-Segment ARES Solid Rocket Motor Test - An Engineer's Aspect


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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Five-Segment ARES Solid Rocket Motor Test

I'm so excited for this test because I was on the design team for the mid-span support and created a solid finite element model of the five-segment motor for the analysis in ANSYS.

NASA and ATK Schedule Motor Test for Ares Rocket on Sept. 10
"WASHINGTON -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK, have rescheduled the test of 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, is scheduled for 1 p.m. MDT on Thursday, Sept. 10, at the ATK test facility in Promontory, Utah. The first firing attempt on Aug. 27 was scrubbed because of an anomaly with the ground test controller.

The goal of this test is to obtain valuable thrust, roll-control, acoustics and vibration data as engineers continue to design the Ares vehicles.

To attend the test, journalists must register with ATK's Trina Patterson at 801-699-0943 by Sept. 8. News media bringing live broadcast trucks must request parking prior to the event.

The test will be carried live on the NASA media channel beginning 10 minutes prior to the firing. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit:"

The first five-segment motor test occurred in 2003. This wasn't an Ares I five segment motor - it was just five shuttle SRB segments stacked together. The Ares I motor has a new big throat nozzle, a new igniter, a different grain profile, etc. There was no mid-span support (in the style of the 4-segment motor) and the deflections were unacceptable during the test fire at the mid-span of the motor. The test stand had to be re-evaluated and a mid-span support designed for the next test which is scheduled for September 10 (my sister's birthday :) ).

This YouTube video is of the 2003 test fire of the five-segment motor.

Description of video: "ATK Thiokol tested a 5-segment SRB motor on October 23, 2003. This test occurred at the Thiokol facilities West of Brigham City, Utah. The normal Space Shuttle SRB has 4 segments, so this motor was quite a bit more powerful. I believe it might have been the most powerful solid rocket motor test ever."