Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a rocket motor test here in Utah. The test was conducted by ATK and ULA United Launch Alliance. It was an amazing experience to see the rocket motor prior to firing, then the actual ignition from less than a mile away from the ignition site. The first sensation is the bright light from the flame, then the loud sound shaking your body, and about 3 seconds later then some heat. The solid fuel rocket engine burned about 90 seconds.
The vectorable motor is 60 inch diameter and 53 feet long and produces 270,000 pounds of thrust.
These GEM-60 rocket motors have re-designed motor from liquid fuel to solid fuel thus being more economical. ATK performed this fixed test where the motor is restrained to the ground to confirm design and gather data using many sensors. These rocket motors are used for important orbital lift operations such as ULA’s Delta IV launch vehicles which launch several important payloads including GPS, satellites and military payloads.
Imagine this motor in 2 or 4 configurations to lift vehicles into orbit, that would be really amazing and loud and would be great to mount one on my jeep to get a little speed boost on a commute, or the drive to AU 2012!
What a way to spend a Thursday, watching some of the most complex engineering and science in action.
Thank you ATK & ULA for the opportunity to attend the test and the front row seat.