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News

Upper stage rocket motor for NASA launch vehicles completes ground testing


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ATK
: 11 December, 2009  (New Product)
The Castor 30 solid rocket motor from Alliant Techsystems has undergone ground tests at Air Force base in Tennessee in preparation for use in both commercial missions to the ISS and government space missions
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has successfully tested its newly developed Castor 30 upper stage solid Rocket motor at the US Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Centre (AEDC) in Tennessee.

The test was a significant milestone for ATK, which developed the motor using internal research and development funding. The Castor 30 fills a key position in the company's 'Family of Motors' product line concept. This concept provides a set of fully developed Rocket motors to the market place that have been specifically selected to satisfy the maximum number of current and future military and commercial customer missions.

A version of this motor is being used by Orbital Sciences in its Taurus II medium-class launch vehicle. It is slated to perform commercial cargo re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, to be demonstrated under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program for later delivery missions to the ISS under the Commercial Re-supply Services contract. A slightly modified version of the Castor 30 is also being used as the basis for the third stage of the US Air Force Large Class (92-inch) Stage (LCS) program. Other potential applications have also been identified.

'This was an important test for ATK today,' said Scott Lehr, ATK vice president and general manager of Strategic and Commercial Systems. 'The Castor 30 solid Rocket motor offers a number of low-cost, high-performance features and fills a niche in the market that will make it an important part of ATK's future solid Rocket motor business. We see this as an important addition to our Family of Motors product portfolio.'

The castor 30 is designed to ignite at altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. In order to accurately test the motor performance the static fire was conducted at AEDC using a vacuum chamber specially designed to simulate upper atmospheric conditions. All channels of data were collected which will allow ATK to validate their predictive models. The motor utilized a prototype version of a newly developed Electromagnetic (EM) Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system, manufactured by Moog Inc, to provide nozzle steering. This system, once qualified, will also have applications across multiple solid Rocket motor product lines.
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