Engineers of Orbital ATK conducted test-fire of the largest, most powerful solid-propellant booster ever built for NASA's Space Launch System at company’s test facility in Promontory, Utah.
On March 11, 2015, engineers of Orbital ATK conducted ground test-fire of the largest, most powerful solid-propellant booster ever built for NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), at Orbital ATK Propulsion Systems' test facility in Promontory, Utah. This booster consisted mostly of legacy Space Shuttle parts, including a piece from the final mission in 2011, but added a fifth section over the four-segment Shuttle boosters that flew for 30 years.
During Qualification Motor-1 (QM-1) test, the booster in horizontal position was fired for 126-second, full-duration burn just like it is intended to do during SLS mission. The ignition sent a rush of golden flame down the length of the booster and exited its nozzle at Mach 3 with a temperature of almost 2,500° C, hot enough to turn sand that protects concrete around the test site into glass. The motor produced a maximum thrust of more than 1,600 metric tons (1,800 tons).
QM-1 is a significant milestone for the SLS as part of NASA's journey to Mars. It is one of two ground tests to qualify the booster for flight. QM-2 test, under colder temperatures, is planned for early 2016. Once qualification is complete, the hardware will be ready to help send the rocket, along with NASA's Orion spacecraft, on its first flight test, currently scheduled for 2018.
When completed, two five-segment, solid-propellant rocket boosters and four RS-25 main engines will power the SLS as it begins its deep space missions. The boosters operate in parallel with the main engines for the first two minutes of flight, providing more than 75% of the thrust needed for the rocket to escape Earth's gravitational pull.
The first flight test of the SLS will feature a configuration for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit to test the performance of the integrated system. As the SLS is updated, it will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons) to enable missions even farther into our solar system.
It was reported that Orbital ATK was awarded $1,2 billion SLS booster contract that includes 2 test motors, 2 pair flight motors & avionics. Below are some more interesting facts about QM-1 and NASA's SLS rocket: