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Solid rockets

Incoming NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and Air Force Undersecretary Ronald Sega an- nounced their joint strategy to use solid rocket propulsion to launch NASA’s planned crew transport and 100-ton cargo vehicles. Plans in- clude development of a Crew Exploration Vehi- cle launcher derived from space shuttle solid rocket boosters, and a new 100-metric-ton-class launch vehicle that also uses shuttle booster technology.

Launch boost and space systems The November 2004 launch and orbital place- ment of the Air Force’s 13th GPS satellite was aided by ATK solid propulsion systems. Nine GEM-40 solid propulsion strap-on boosters pro- vided augmented launch thrust, while a STAR 48B third-stage rocket motor propelled the satel- lite into orbit. The additional velocity needed to place the satellite into its final inclination and circular orbit was provided by a STAR 37FM apogee kick motor. ATK static fired a full-scale reusable solid rocket motor (RSRM) in February to validate the performance of a midlife motor. Data from this successful test will be used for further valida- tion of RSRM expected life. RSRM program en- gineers also conducted a static firing of a 48-in., one-sixth-scale version of the RSRM at NASA Marshall as part of the ongoing verification of components, materials, and manufacturing pro- cesses. Testing this scaled-down motor is a low- cost, quick-turnaround method of qualifying proposed changes to the RSRM. Two ATK Thiokol solid rocket motor up- grade (SRMU) boosters provided more than 3.4 million lb of thrust for April’s final launch of the Titan IVB rocket from Cape Canaveral AFS. The SRMUs have been flying on Titan IVB missions since February 1997. The final Titan IVB launch, originally scheduled for this past summer at Vandenberg AFB, took place on October 20.

Composite motor case for the Vega second-stage Zefiro 23 is fabricated at Avio’s new fila- ment-winding facilities in Colleferro, Italy.

by Michael J. Fisher

facilities in Colleferro, Italy. by Michael J. Fisher 56 AEROSPACE AMERICA/DECEMBER 2005 Lockheed Martin and


Lockheed Martin and Aerojet successfully conducted the first two static test firings of the upgraded Atlas V Block B solid rocket booster this spring. These were also the first two tests conducted at the newly constructed rocket mo- tor test stand at the Air Force Research Labora- tory (AFRL) at Edwards AFB. Aerojet’s Block B design, providing enhanced performance, reli- ability, and production efficiency, is the result of a preplanned product improvement follow- ing the successful qualification of the Block A. In late 2004, an Ariane 5 solid rocket mo- tor incorporating several new features and ma- terials was successfully static tested in Kourou. Among the features tested was an innovative thrust oscillation attenuation devicea star- shaped insulator on the aft motor segmentwhich performed effectively. The static test mo- tor included a number of alternative materials, either to be qualified as replacement materials for those facing obsolescence or to introduce more environmentally friendly technologies. For example, alternative ablative carbon- phenolic components were made by Snecma Propulsion Solide from the carbonized rayon fabric C2. C2 is made from a more sustainable source of rayon than the NARC rayon-based carbon-phenolic used earlier. The Ariane 5-ECA flew successfully with C2 components in Feb- ruary, confirming its excellent behavior as a drop-in replacement for the previous material. Development of the solid propulsion units for Europe’s Vega light launch vehicle made further progress this year. The four-stage Vega includes three solid stages: the P80 booster, the Zefiro 23 second stage, and the third-stage Ze- firo 9. With the May casting of an inert Zefiro 23, inert casting of all three motors has now been accomplished. The inert castings aided the qualification of production technologies and provided the mockup for an inert static vehicle to test the launcher ground facilities. A Zefiro 9 full-scale development motor cast in August will be static fired by the end of this year. De- velopment is on schedule to support the first Vega qualification flight in late 2007.

Missile defense and strategic systems In November 2004, ATK and Honeywell suc- cessfully conducted a hot-fire test of a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) solid divert and attitude con- trol system (SDACS) that included multipulse operations designed to maintain the kill vehi- cle’s energy and lethality during in-flight ma- neuvers. The SDACS is used to control the yaw, pitch, and roll of the SM-3’s MK 142 kinetic en- ergy warhead. Flight demonstration of the de- sign is expected after design verification and

qualification tests, slated for completion by the end of the year. Aerojet opened a newly renovated building dedicated to the production of the Missile De- fense Agency’s Terminal High Altitude Area De- fense (THAAD) missile, at its Sacramento site in

March. THAAD, a key ele- ment in the U.S. ballistic missile defense system, is powered by a composite- cased solid rocket motor developed and qualified by Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion. Following the 2004 closure of Pratt & Whitney’s San Jose plant, completion of THAAD’s engineering and manufac- turing phase and follow- on production were transitioned to Aerojet. This summer saw a flurry of contract awards for the development of strategic propul- sion technologies. In July, ATK was awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin Space Systems to produce solid propulsion systems for all three stages of the Navy’s Trident II (D-5) fleet ballistic missile. Also in July, ATK and Lockheed Martin were awarded a contract by the Navy’s Strategic Systems Program Office to demon- strate and validate solid rocket motor technolo- gies suitable for a SLIRBM (submarine-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile). SLIRBM is a conventional missile concept designed to de- liver a payload precisely on target at ranges in excess of 1,100 mi. SLIRBM will be developed using numerous off-the-shelf components to re- duce cost, risk, and development time. Aerojet received a contract from the Air Force to develop new solid rocket motor tech- nologies for application on future ICBM sys- tems. Building on a 50-year history of provid- ing Minuteman, Peacekeeper, and Small ICBM propulsion systems, Aerojet will evaluate solid rocket motor technologies and manufacturing processes to produce an affordable, sustainable next-generation ICBM.

Tactical systems An ATK-produced RATO (rocket-assisted take- off) rocket motor was used in March to launch the Air Force Subscale Aerial Target UAV at Tyndall AFB. The ATK RATO is a near copy of the Titan staging rocket design used to separate booster rockets from the Titan IVB main launch vehicle. The Navy conducted the seventh successful flight test of Orbital Sciences’ GQM-163A Coyote

Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target in April. With this test, the Coyote completed its development and flight test program and moved into low- rate initial production. The Coyote vehicle de- sign incorporates a solid-fuel ducted-rocket

vehicle de- sign incorporates a solid-fuel ducted-rocket ramjet propulsion system into a compact mis- sile airframe.

ramjet propulsion system into a compact mis- sile airframe. Ramjet supersonic takeover speed is achieved using a decommissioned Navy MK 70 solid rocket motor for the first stage. In May, ATK received a new contract from Raytheon to manufacture rocket motors for the TOW (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire- guided) antitank missile. This contract contin- ues ATK’s long and successful history of TOW-2 motor production, totaling over 350,000 mo- tors since 1982. Design features are being eval- uated for potential improvements to the motor’s insensitive munitions capability. Lockheed Martin and Aerojet reported in May the successful completion of safety and sta- tic firing tests on the Joint Common Missile (JCM) rocket motor. During high-pressure test- ing, the JCM composite motor case exceeded its structural integrity requirement by 65%, pro- viding further confidence in the integrity of the motor. Additional tests confirmed that JCM mo- tor exhaust pressure and expelled debris will not compromise launch platform safety. High- and low-temperature static firings of preflight readiness test motors of the same configuration as those planned for CTV flight tests were also conducted. The first CTV test flight with a pro- duction representative rocket motor was suc- cessfully carried out in June. In July, Bayern-Chemie/Protac successfully completed the preflight test phase of the LFK- NG dual-pulse solid rocket motor (DPM), a tech- nology program funded by the German Ministry of Defense. Three static firings were conducted, along with a limited environmental program. A full ballistic flight demonstration of the LFK-NG DPM is scheduled to take place by the end of this year.

DPM is scheduled to take place by the end of this year. Static test firing of

Static test firing of Aerojet’s PFRT motor paves the way for CTV flight test of the Lockheed Martin Joint Common Missile.