ATK and the US Air Force successfully tested ATK's newly developed Large Class (92-inch diameter) Stage III solid rocket motor at the Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tennessee.
The Stage III motor is designed to ignite at altitudes in excess of 85,000 feet. In order to accurately test the motor's performance the static fire was conducted at AEDC using a vacuum chamber specially designed to simulate upper atmospheric conditions. Preliminary data show all channels of data were collected, and performance appears to be within predictions.
The high-performance motor was developed by ATK for the Large Class Stage III program and uses emerging technologies from other Air Force developmental programs including the Propulsion Application Program and Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology. The contract is managed out of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Hill Air Force Base.
The Air Force has been tasked with maturing and demonstrating available technologies in a Large Class Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) and with demonstrating a potential Family of Motors (FOM) capability applicable to future propulsion systems. FOM capability would save the Air Force future development costs by assembling an array of existing rocket motors that could be combined to meet most all future mission requirements at a fraction of the cost of developing new propulsion systems for each mission.
"The successful motor firing was an important milestone for the US Air Force's Large Class Stage III program," said Scott Lehr, ATK Aerospace Systems Vice President and General Manager of Strategic and Commercial Systems. "This Stage III motor demonstrates additional performance beyond ATK's baseline CASTOR 30 motor, using state-of-the-art solid propulsion technologies. The results of this test are important and will apply directly to the development of next-generation systems."
ATK has a successful history of designing, fabricating, integrating, testing and delivering more than 3,800 stage motors in direct support of Department of Defense missions. As potential Family of Motors candidates, ATK's Large Class Stage I and Stage III motors could support multiple missions such as Conventional Strike Missile and Operationally Responsive Space.
The Large Class Stage III program is conducted under the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Demonstration/Validation Propulsion Applications Program funding to support the demonstration of technologies applicable to future strategic programs.