Press Release

ATK Rocket Motors Launch Space Shuttle Columbia on Mission to Service Hubble Space Telescope

By SpaceRef Editor
March 1, 2002
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Two reusable solid rocket
motors manufactured by ATK’s (Alliant Techsystems) Aerospace Group
helped launch NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.,
today on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Manufactured by ATK Thiokol Propulsion, Promontory, Utah — the world’s
leading supplier of solid propellant rocket motors — the Space Shuttle
reusable solid rocket motor (RSRM) is the largest solid rocket motor ever
flown and the first designed for reuse.

“ATK Thiokol Propulsion has a long and proud history of supporting Space
Shuttle missions, beginning with the first flight in 1981, which also was
conducted by Columbia,” said Gerald Smith, president.
“We are proud to carry
on this tradition with this first of six scheduled Shuttle missions in 2002 —
and the 27th mission for Columbia, America’s first Space Shuttle.”

Key facts about the Space Shuttle RSRM:

  • Each RSRM consists of 11 case segments designed for reuse up to
    20 launches or static tests.
    One of the RSRM case segments on Columbia
    was used on its first flight in 1981.

  • The RSRMs provide 71 percent of thrust at liftoff and during
    first-stage ascent.

  • From ignition to end of burn, each RSRM generates an average thrust of
    2.6 million pounds and burns for approximately 124 seconds.

  • Each motor is just over 126 feet long and 12 feet in diameter.
    entire booster — including nose cap, frustum, and forward and aft
    skirts — is approximately 149 feet long.
    Of the motor’s total
    approximate weight of 1.25 million pounds, propellant accounts for
    approximately 1.1 million pounds.

  • By the time the 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,
    engineers from ATK Thiokol Propulsion direct approximately
    110,000 quality-control inspections on each RSRM flight set.

The servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope — the fourth since
the observatory was launched in 1990 — will involve five space walks by
Columbia astronauts to install a camera, cooling system, power switching unit,
and solar arrays.
The mission is scheduled to end with the landing of
Columbia at the Kennedy Space Center on March 11.

ATK is a $2 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
11,200 people.
ATK news and information can be found on the Internet at

SpaceRef staff editor.