Last week I was invited by NASA to visit the remote Orbital ATK facility at Promontory Utah to witness the test firing of a new SLS rocket motor DM-1 Static Test. The DM-1 rocket is one of the two solid fueled rockets that will lift the Space Launch System (SLS) to near Earth asteroids and a possible manned mission to Mars. This test was important and was a demonstration test to certify the design and record more performance characteristics.
I was invited to attend with some social media attendees and had a great time with questions and answers with NASA officials and current NASA Astronaut Stanley G. Love. We sat in the press conference by the project mission leaders for NASA and Orbital ATK and even made appearances on NASA TV. We got a VIP tour of several facilities used to make the solid rocket propellant but sadly were unable to take photos in the facilities but we received a group photo in front of a propellant mixing bowl.
The worlds largest solid fueled rocket generates 3.6 million pounds of thrust for almost 2 minutes.
The rocket test was amazing from 1 mile away. You seen the flash, feel the heat, then the rumbling sound about 5 seconds later hits you.
After the rocket was cooled down with the assistance of carbon dioxide and water quenching we visited it at the test harness., It was amazing to see the soil after the intense heat from the motor. I did not find any rocket glass this test but instead pieces of plug material. What is fascinating is the mechanical design to restrain the rockets 3.6 million pounds of thrust from launching it into orbit and all the hundreds of load and scientific sensors.
One of the attendees let me borrow and play with his Google Glass. They were cool but weird to have to look up to the right to see the little screen display. I can't wait for future augmented reality or smart display glasses.
Another attendee had their GoPro camera a wee bit too close to the rocket test...