ATK Aerospace Systems, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Even as the space program struggles for survival, a Utah company demonstrated with a two-minute booster rocket test Thursday that space travel won't end in the near future.
Firing the five-stage, 154-foot booster rocket was done for the benefit of NASA officials as well as private operators of space flights, said Charlie Precourt, the vice president of space launch systems for ATK Aerospace Systems.
The test of the 22-million horsepower rocket, conducted in Utah's west desert, was described by Precourt as a success. The five-stage booster rocket is modeled on the four-stage booster rockets that used to launch the discontinued space shuttles.
The focus of Thursday's test was to ensure sensors worked and new components on the rockets could withstand extremely hot temperatures, Precourt said.
The test was done during an uncertain time for NASA, as the agency fights to continue funding space flights to the International Space Station and other places. Precourt said the space agency needs to be funded for the good of the entire country.
"NASA is one of the agencies we should be most proud of in generating research and development benefits to this country," Precourt said. "In doing so, the technologies that emerge ... fold back into our economy multiple times over. That kind of investment, if it isn't made, inhibits our ability to expand our economy."
ATK spokesman George Torres said the booster rockets have many applicable uses. There is a lot of interest from NASA for its "heavy lift" program that will begin sending astronauts on deep space missions, as well as companies offering private space flights or for launching satellites into orbit.
Torres said no other booster rocket provides as much power as the one tested Thursday, which is essential to escape the pull of Earth's gravity.
Josh Loftin can be reached at http://twitter.com/joshloftin.
- The brave man who may have risked his life in...
- The new face of extreme poverty in America
- Bill Plaschke: Pat Haden, USC shouldn’t...
- More cities are recognizing Native Americans...
- A tale of two cities: Norwegian towns offer...
- Walking where Columbus walked: Local man...
- Obama: Clinton made mistake; security not...
- Jobs, gov't distrust central to national park...
- Is 'Speaker Chaffetz' more likely with... 70
- More cities are recognizing Native... 23
- Gun violence researchers becoming an... 18
- Obama: Clinton made mistake; security... 18
- The new face of extreme poverty in America 18
- Obama touts immigration reform in... 17
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he wouldn't... 15
- Obama: Americans must 'come together'... 14