June Malone

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
March9, 2006

Phone: (256) 544-0034

RELEASE: 06-031


NASA’s Space Shuttle Program successfully fired a full-scale,
full-duration reusable solid rocket technical evaluation motor Thursday,
March 9, at a Utah test facility. The two-minute static, or stationary,
firing of the rocket motor was performed at ATK Thiokol, a unit of
Alliant Techsystems Inc., in Promontory, north of Salt Lake City.

The technical evaluation motor, or TEM-12, burned for approximately 123
seconds, the same duration each reusable solid rocket motor burns during
an actual space shuttle launch. The static-fire test included 26
specific objectives and used 89 instrumentation channels to collect and
evaluate the motor’s performance.

Preliminary data indicates that all test objectives were met. After
final test data are analyzed, results for each objective will be
published in a final report which will be available later this year.

“Test results will provide engineers unique information about motor
components that have been exposed to the environment in Florida at the
Kennedy Space Center,” said Jody Singer, manager of the Reusable Solid
Rocket Motor Project, part of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “Testing such as
this is important to ensure continued quality and performance.”

The 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 shuttle
vehicle. During space shuttle flights, solid rocket motors provide 80
percent of the thrust during the first two minutes of flight. Each motor
generates an average thrust of 2.6 million pounds and is just over 126
feet long and 12 feet in diameter. It is the primary component of the
shuttle’s twin solid rocket boosters.

During a shuttle launch, the solid propellant rockets take the shuttle
to an altitude of 28 miles at a speed of 3,094 mph before they separate
and fall into the ocean to be retrieved, then refurbished and prepared
for another flight.

Regular static-fire tests of the motors help maintain the highest
safety, quality and reliability standards of solid rocket motors used
for human space flight. Engineers conduct approximately 110,000
quality-control inspections on each motor designed for flight, giving
the highest confidence possible on motor performance in support of the
space shuttle program.

ATK Thiokol manufactures the shuttle’s solid rocket motor at its
Promontory, Utah, plant.

For more information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit:

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fact sheets, video and audio files and more - please visit the NASA
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