Press Release

‘New’ material for Shuttle’s Reusable Solid Rocket Motor to be tested Aug. 1

By SpaceRef Editor
August 2, 2002
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A new material for the nozzle of the Space Shuttle’s Reusable Solid Rocket
Motor will be tested on a scaled-down version of the motor at 3 p.m. CDT
Thursday, Aug. 1 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

On hand to view the 21-second test will be crewmembers of the Space Shuttle
Atlantis STS-111 mission, which flew in June. During their visit to the
Marshall Center, the crew – which includes Commander Kenneth D. Cockrell;
Pilot Paul S. Lockhart; and Mission Specialist Franklin R. Chang-Diaz —
also will present "Silver Snoopy" awards to Marshall employees who
contributed to the success of the Space Shuttle or International Space
Station programs.

Engineers from the Marshall Center Space Transportation Directorate, who
will conduct the test, will use a 24-inch solid rocket motor to ensure a
replacement material will meet the criteria set by the Shuttle’s Solid Motor
Project Office. The current material is a rayon-based carbon-cloth phenolic,
resistant to heat, used as insulating material for the motor’s nozzle. The
new material, Lycocel, is expected to perform better under the high
temperatures experienced during launch.

Use of the scaled-down version of the Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Motor allows
for a versatile, quick-turnaround, low-cost way to determine the performance
of new materials.

The test, which replicates launch conditions, is part of Shuttle’s ongoing
verification of components, materials and manufacturing processes required
by the Marshall Center, which oversees the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor
project. ATK Thiokol Propulsion Division in Promontory, Utah, manufactures
the Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Motor.

A baseline test to provide information on how the material currently being
used performs was executed in June by Space Transportation Directorate
engineers at Marshall.

Lycocel, a brand name for Tencel, is a cousin to rayon and is an
exceptionally strong fiber made of wood pulp produced by a special
"solvent-spinning" process using a non-toxic solvent. It will also be
impregnated with a phenolic resin.

The motor test – used to qualify any proposed upgrades or changes to the
motor — is a stepping stone to a Flight Support Motor test performed at
Thiokol Propulsion Corporation’s Test Services facility in Promontory. The
motor’s 21-second test duration is the approximately one-sixth the length of
time that the motors perform during Shuttle flights.

"Testing is a key element in our program, providing valuable information on
design, process and material changes," said Mike Rudolphi, manager of the
Reusable Solid Rocket Motor Project Office.

Following the test, the data will be analyzed and the results for each
objective will be used to better understand the motor’s performance. The
next step for qualification of the new material will be testing on a 48-inch
solid rocket motor.

At 126 feet (38.4 meters) long and 12 feet (3.6 meters) in diameter, the
Shuttle’s Reusable Solid Rocket Motor is the largest solid rocket motor ever
flown and the first designed for reuse. During its two-minute burn at
liftoff, each motor generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds (1.2
million kilograms).

The Marshall Center is a key leader for development of space transportation
and propulsion systems.

NOTE TO EDITORS / NEWS DIRECTORS: A special area to the view the Space
Shuttle’s Reusable Solid Rocket Motor test will be provided at the Marshall
Center for the news media. Members of the STS-111 crew will be available for
news media interviews. To attend the test firing, media representatives must
register with Marshall’s Media Relations Department by telephoning (256)
544-0034 no later than 10 a.m. CDT Thursday, Aug. 1 and arrive no later than
2:15 p.m. CDT for the test.

The test will be conducted at the East Test Area, Test Stand 500. Media
should enter Gate 1, take a left onto Dodd Road and follow the signs to the
test site.

Additional information on the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-111 crew and the
Marshall Center’s role in the mission

During their mission to the International Space Station, the STS-111 crew
installed the Mobile Base System, which allows the Station’s robotic arm to
"inchworm" up and down the Station’s trusses and aid in maintenance and
assembly tasks.

The Marshall Center’s role in the STS-111 mission included:

Consulting with the Canadian Space Agency to help it prepare the final piece
of the Canadian Mobile Servicing System – the Mobile Base System – for
flight;

Designing and manufacturing a payload bay carrier to hold the Service Module
Debris Panels that provided additional shielding for the Russian Service
Module, Zvezda, where the Space Station crew lives;

Collaborating with the Italian Space Agency, which built the Multi Purpose
Logistics Module Leonardo, that made its third delivery of experiments and
supplies to the Space Station — the fifth flight of the logistics module,
which is managed Marshall’s Flight Projects Directorate;

Working with the European Space Agency on a new Space Station science
facility – the Microgravity Science Glovebox – allowing safe, hands-on
materials science experiments inside the Station’s Destiny laboratory;
Delivering the fifth EXPRESS rack, which support more experiments inside
Destiny;

And monitoring 24experiments, including the new glovebox and the first two
Station materials science experiments, at the Payload Operations Center at
Marshall.

STS-111 crew are Commander Kenneth D. Cockrell; Pilot Paul S. Lockhart; and
Mission Specialists Phillippe Perrin and Franklin R. Chang-Diaz.

SpaceRef staff editor.