A stress test showed the space shuttle's redesigned solid rocket boosters apparently can withstand the weight of the orbiter, launch pressures and then some, a NASA spokesman said Saturday.
The structural load test was another step in certifying the space shuttle for flight, said Ed Medal, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at its Marshall Space Flight Center.Hydraulic systems were used to apply pressures to a shortened solid rocket booster. The test section was subjected to forces equaling 150 percent of those normally experienced during launch, he said.
The booster rocket was not fired.
"Detailed analysis of the load condition will be conducted . . . over the next several weeks, but it appears the test was successsful in demonstrating the capability required with reserve for returning the shuttle to flight status," said Medal.
He said the test booster, with included a flared aft skirt like the two that support the shuttle's weight on the launch pad, failed at the predicted weld when subjected to excessive pressures during the Friday night procedure.
"This test demonstrated a capability greater than that tested prior to the first shuttle launch," said Medal.
NASA hopes to resume shuttle flights this summer.