A test firing of a rocket motor Saturday night at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., should lay the groundwork for a later full-scale static firing near Brigham City of the space shuttle's redesigned solid rocket motor.
Thiokol Corp., Brigham City, is the prime contractor for the redesigned motor, which will launch space shuttles for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for several years.The redesigned shuttle motor incorporates new safety features to prevent accidents like the one that killed seven astronauts in the explosion of Challenger in 1986.
NASA intends to fly the redesigned motors until the next generation of motors - the advanced solid-fuel boosters - can be certified for flight. That is expected to happen in 1996 or 1997.
Some time after certification, NASA will begin flying advanced boosters built by Lockheed and Aerojet Corp., to be assembled in a new booster plant in Mississippi. However, Thiokol is expected to continue building the booster's nozzle under a subcontract with Lockheed.
"The primary purpose of this test is to evaluate the performance of a new Redesigned Solid Rocket Motor nozzle liner material for the space shuttle," said the test manager for the Marshall Center, Chuck Vibbart. The liner material is supplied by North American Rayon Corp. of Elizabethtown, Tenn.
Another purpose of the test is to evaluate performance of three non-asbestos insulation materials being studied and compared with asbestos, which is currently used.
Radiometers on the test stand compared the difference in heating between redesigned solid rocket motor fuel and the advanced motor fuel.
Results of the test will be used to help predict how rayon material will perform during a full-scale static test firing to be conducted at Thiokol's facility near Brigham City at some future date.