- Press Release
- Feb 4, 2023
ATK Rocket Motors Launch Space Shuttle Columbia on Scientific Research Mission
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 scientific research mission.
During the 16-day mission, an international crew of seven will work 24
hours a day in two alternating shifts to carry out experiments in the areas of
astronaut health and safety, advanced technology development, and Earth and
space sciences. The mission is scheduled to end with the landing of Columbia
at Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 1.
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. Key facts about the RSRM:
- Each RSRM consists of 11 case segments designed for reuse up to 20
launches or static tests.
- The RSRMs provide 71 percent of thrust at liftoff and during first-
- 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. The
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.
ATK Thiokol Propulsion Reusable Solid Rocket Motors have provided the
initial lift for every NASA Space Shuttle launch since the first flight of
Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981. Other products manufactured by the company
include solid propulsion systems for the Delta, Pegasus®, Taurus®, Athena,
Atlas, H-IIA, and Titan IV B space launch vehicles, the Trident II Fleet
Ballistic 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 news and information can be found on the Internet at