HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NASA’s Space Shuttle Program conducted the final
test firing of a reusable solid rocket motor Feb. 25 in Promontory,
The flight support motor, or FSM-17, burned for approximately 123
seconds — the same time each reusable solid rocket motor burns
during an actual space shuttle launch. Preliminary indications show
all test objectives were met. After final test data are analyzed,
results for each objective will be published in a NASA report.
ATK Launch Systems, a unit of Alliant Techsystems Inc., in Promontory,
north of Salt Lake City, manufactures and tests the solid rocket
The test – the 52nd conducted for NASA by ATK – marks the closure of a
test program that has spanned more than three decades. The first test
was in July 1977. The ATK-built motors have successfully launched the
space shuttle into orbit 129 times.
“Today’s test was a great deal more than the successful conclusion to
a series of highly successful NASA/ATK-sponsored static tests that
began more than three decades ago,” said David Beaman, Reusable Solid
Rocket Booster project manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Ala. The project, part of the Space Shuttle Propulsion
Office, is responsible for motor design, development, manufacturing,
assembly, testing and flight performance.
“These tests have built a base of engineering knowledge that continued
engineering development of the reusable solid rocket motor system and
the continued safe and successful launch of space shuttles,” Beaman
said. “They have provided an engineering model and lessons learned
for additional applications in future launch systems.”
The final test was conducted to ensure the safe flight of the four
remaining space shuttle missions. A total of 43 design objectives
were measured through 258 instrument channels during the two-minute
static firing. The flight motor tested represents motors that will be
used for all remaining space shuttle launches.
The space shuttle’s reusable solid rocket motor is the largest solid
rocket motor ever flown, the only one rated for human flight and the
first designed for reuse. Each shuttle launch requires the boost of
two reusable solid rocket motors to lift the 4.5-million-pound
During space shuttle flights, solid rocket motors provide 80 percent
of the thrust during the first two minutes of flight. Each motor, the
primary component of the shuttle’s twin solid rocket boosters,
generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds and is just over
126 feet long and 12 feet in diameter.
For more information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit: