Ares first-stage motor tested for the first time
NASA and industry engineers lit up the Utah sky Thursday with the initial full-scale, full-duration test firing of the first stage motor for the Ares I rocket. The Ares I is a crew launch vehicle in development for NASA's Constellation Program.
ATK Space Systems conducted the successful stationary firing of the five-segment solid development motor 1, or DM-1. ATK Space Systems, a division of Alliant Techsystems of Brigham City, Utah, is the prime contractor for the Ares I first stage. Engineers will use the measurements gathered from the test to evaluate thrust, roll control, acoustics and motor vibrations. This data will provide valuable information as NASA develops the Ares I and Ares V vehicles. Another ground test is planned for summer 2010.
This was the second attempt to conduct the two-minute rocket test at ATK's test stand in Promontory, Utah. The first test on Aug. 27 was canceled with 20 seconds left in the countdown because of a problem with a component of the ground controller unit, which sends power to the system that moves the nozzle during the test. Through a detailed investigation, the engineering team pinpointed the problem and replaced the faulty part.
The first stage motor will generate up to 3.6 million pounds of thrust, or lifting power, at launch. Although similar to the solid rocket boosters that help power the space shuttle to orbit, the Ares development motor includes several upgrades and technology improvements implemented by NASA and ATK engineers.