I just returned from the worlds largest solid fuel rocket motor test about an hour drive North of me in Utah. The rocket motor was the NASA ARES-1 DM-1 built and tested by ATK Space Systems. ATK Press Release
This is why science and engineering are cool and young people should be considering a future in science and engineering fields! We need another manned lunar mission. Support NASA, the ARES project, and future space exploration!
A few quick bits and pieces beyond the rocket test’s sheer power and performance while burning over a million pounds of solid rocket fuel in two minutes.
How did they keep the rocket horizontal for this static test? ATK had placed nearly a football field of concrete that the rocket motor assembly was mounted to. ATK and NASA had 650 sensors for monitoring and recording acoustical, pressure, and strain measurements. The initial results were successful and the data will be analyzed over the coming weeks to get detailed data to use in future motor design modifications and refinements.
There was a rattlesnake that survived being directly behind the motor test. The snake was located underneath some sand. The snake was not injured in any way despite the fact that some of the sand in the area turned to glass with exposure to the high temperatures generated by the rocket motor test. The ATK personnel certainly were surprised to find this lively little snake as they were moving sand after the test. I took a photo of the engineers looking at the snake, but due to the snake blending in with camouflage markings you can see the lucky little reptile.
NASA located a special video camera with a mirror setup behind the rocket motor, the camera survived only a few seconds after the motor ignition. The camera was on a small car sized concrete footing, and it is believed to be spotted half way up the mountain behind the test.
I did ask a purely fun question while speaking with one ATK employee. With such a powerful rocket motor fixed to the Earth, I inquired whether they had considered the rockets force to alter the Earths rotational speed and possibly altering time. ;-)
NASA TV video of the rocket motor test:
NASA and ATK Successfully Test Ares First Stage Motor
Local television station Fox 13 video coverage of the test:
Rocket Test Successful in N. Utah
Local television station KSL:
ATK awaits Fla. test launch after successful test fire of Ares rocket
This was an absolutely amazing experience, one that I will never forget. I met with many people today including real rocket scientists and Space Shuttle astronauts. I have many more photos to post to my Flickrstream as well as future blog posts. The ATK and NASA employees were awesome and I cannot begin to thank them enough for allowing me the opportunity to attend this historical engineering event.
What an experience!