Press Release

Shuttle motor test, crew visit is success

By SpaceRef Editor
August 5, 2002
Filed under , ,

A scaled-down version of the Space Shuttle’s Reusable Solid Rocket Motor was
successfully fired for 21 seconds on Aug. 1 at one of the Marshall Center test
stands. More than 100 spectators, including crew members of the Space Shuttle
Atlantis STS-111 mission, which flew in June, watched as Marshall Center’s Space
Transportation Directorate tested a new material that may be used on the Solid
Rocket Motor’s nozzle.

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
tyotor 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.