I will have a front row seat in the media area when ATK performs a ground test of GEM 60 solid rocket motor on September 6th, 2012. Last time I was at this test site, I had front row for the ARES DM1 fixed motor test and see the amazing engineering before and after firing as well as speak with the real rocket scientists and engineers. It was so amazing that I couldn’t event remember how to use my camera for a few seconds when the DM1 lit up and rumbled the earth. I felt the heat from a mile away. The countdown alone is enough to raise your heart rate with each number 10, 9, 8, 7, then they tease you with hold times to make sure all is ready but I personally think it is just to see how much anticipation and anxiety you can take. The only thing ever to rival this was being front row for the final launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-133 and blogging and tweeting it live. It was a truly emotional time and saw several of the veteran Space Shuttle astronauts as well as some legendary Apollo 11 astronauts like Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong RIP.
DM1 Test blog post:
What a Day, 3.6 Million Pounds of Thrust Was a Blast
In a ground test they mount the motor to the ground in a special reinforced fixture instead of it blasting off into the heavens. It takes a great deal of engineering to do this test, and restrain an amazing amount of energy provided by the rocket engine producing 270,000 of thrust. Granted this is only a fraction of the Ares DM1 motor at 3.6 million pounds of thrust, but still just as amazing. Once you light the rocket motor there is no stopping it until it burns out of fuel. There is no UNDO command.
I will be tweeting @ShaanHurley as well as blogging during and after the event, and can hardly wait.
This is another fine example of math science and engineering being cool.
ATK to Perform Ground Test of GEM 60 Solid Rocket Motor
Salt Lake City, Utah, August 30, 2012 – Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) will test a GEM-60 solid rocket motor, Thursday, September 6. The 60-inch diameter graphite epoxy motor (GEM) is a commercially provided, reliable, low-cost propulsion system. It measures 43 feet in length.
What: Horizontal ground test firing of GEM-60
Date: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Time: 11:15 a.m. MDT
Where: ATK Aerospace Group facility in Promontory, Utah
- GEM-60 fixed nozzle qualification at cold temperature
- Brand new nozzle (previously built by supplier – now by ATK)
- The motor will be cooled to 30°F to measure solid rocket motor performance at low temperature
- When fired, the motor will produce a maximum thrust 270,000 pounds.
- GEM-60 motors have successfully boosted ULA’s Delta IV M+ launch vehicles since 2002
A public viewing area is available along State Road 83 North approximately 20 miles west of Corinne, Utah.
I cant wait for the countdown to start and then when they light this monster of a candle. This is all thanks to my ATK friends in Utah where the Space Shuttle “SRB” Solid Rocket Boosters were developed, tested, and made for many years until the Space Shuttle Program was retired.
Tonight when you look up in the night sky you will see a rare full blue moon, think of Neil and Buzz.
It is said you can get one wish upon a blue moon. The next one is in 2015.