Northrop Grumman test tests solid motor for ULA’s Vulcan rocket


The motor fired for about 90 seconds, generating a thrust of about 449,000 pounds.

WASHINGTON – Northrop Grumman announced on January 21 that it had completed static firing of the strap-on solid booster, which it had developed for the United Vulcan Centaur rocket of the United Launch Alliance.

The test fire of the extended-length 63-inch-diameter graphite epoxy motor (GEM 63 XL) occurred Thursday from the company’s facility in Promontory, Utah.

In August, Northrop Grumman completed the first ground test of the GEM 63XL. In August, the motor fired at a cool temperature in an aptitude test. This latest test was at a warmer temperature to validate the motor for flight.

In a Jan. 21 static test, the motor fired for about 90 seconds, causing a thrust of about 449,000 pounds to validate the motor’s performance capability. The firing also verified the motor’s internal insulation, ballistics of the propellant grain, and the nozzle at high temperatures.

The GEM 63XL variant is 72-feet long while the GEM 63 motors used by ULA in its Atlas 5 rocket is 66 feet long. The GEM 63XL Motors is expected to fly on the Vulcan Centaur rocket at its first launch later this year.

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