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ATK Tests Reusable Shuttle Motor (Jan. 27)

MINNEAPOLIS --- ATK Thiokol Propulsion, Brigham City, Utah, successfully conducted a static test firing of a full-scale Space Shuttle reusable solid rocket motor (RSRM) yesterday. The test took place at the company's Promontory, Utah, facility, located approximately 90 miles north of Salt Lake City.

The flight support motor (FSM) program is used to continue verification of the RSRM, including components, materials, and processes. The static tests also provide opportunities to evaluate or certify various design, process, and supplier changes for the RSRM flight program.

The test ran two minutes, the same duration as the motors fire when launching the Space Shuttle. The last test was conducted in November 2001. The next one, a next-generation five-segment motor, is planned for September 2003.

The static test had 97 objectives and employed 459 instrumentation channels to collect data for evaluation. Many of the static test objectives on FSM-10 will eventually be introduced into the Space Shuttle RSRM flight program.

The Space Shuttle RSRM is the largest solid rocket motor ever flown and the first designed for reuse. The reusability of the RSRM case and nozzle hardware is an important cost-saving factor for the nation's space program. From ignition to end of burn, each RSRM generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds and burns for approximately 123.6 seconds. Each motor is just over 126 feet long and 12 feet in diameter. The entire booster -- including nose cap, frustum, and forward and aft skirts -- is approximately 149 feet long.

Of the motor's total weight of 1.25 million pounds, propellant accounts for 1.1 million pounds. Each launch requires the boost of two RSRMs. 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.

With safety, quality, and reliability as their primary objectives, ATK Thiokol Propulsion engineers direct approximately 110,000 quality control inspections on each RSRM flight set.

ATK Thiokol Propulsion is the world's leading supplier of solid-propellant rocket motors. Products manufactured by the company include propulsion systems for the Delta, Pegasus, Taurus, Athena, Atlas, H-IIA, and Titan IV B expendable space launch vehicles, NASA's Space Shuttle, the Trident II Fleet Ballistic Missile and the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, and ground-based missile defense interceptors.

ATK is a $2.1 billion aerospace and defense company with leading positions in propulsion, composite structures, munitions, and precision capabilities. The company, which is headquartered in Edina, Minn., employs approximately 12,000 people and has three business groups: Aerospace, Precision Systems, and Ammunition.

ATK Successfully Conducts Static Shuttle Motor Test