ATK, United Launch Alliance test GEM-60 motor

United Launch Alliance

PROMONTORY, Utah, 7 June 2012. ATK (NYSE:ATK) and United Launch Alliance (ULA) conducted a cold-temperature ground test of a Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM-60) 60-inch solid rocket motor, which is used to boost ULA’s Delta IV launch vehicles.

The main test objectives from the static motor firing were: measuring the rocket motor's performance at cold temperatures, qualifying a new vectorable nozzle on the motor, and verifying the performance of new nozzle insulation at the lowest range of operational temperatures. The test also provides qualification for transitioning nozzle manufacturing operations from an outside supplier to ATK.

Initial test data indicates that the 60-inch diameter and 53-feet long motor, which was chilled to a 30 degree F core temperature, performed as designed, producing approximately 270,000 pounds of thrust and burned for 90 seconds.   

"This motor firing is an important test for ATK, as we have expanded the use of our in-house capabilities," describes Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, ATK Aerospace Group, Defense & Commercial Division. "By manufacturing the nozzles ourselves, we are able to provide a better value for our customers."

GEM-60 motors have boosted ULA's Delta IV Medium+ launch vehicles 11 times since 2002, according to Mark Wilkins, ULA's vice president of Program Operations. "Ground tests are an important part of qualifying modifications and upgrades to flight hardware, as well as ensuring mission success on future flights."

The next GEM-60 motor test, a fixed nozzle test, is scheduled for September.

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