Defense

February 21, 2014

AEDC tests large class rocket motor for USAF Nuclear Weapons Center

Raquel March
Arnold AFB, Tenn.

The rocket test team at Arnold Engineering Development Complex’s (AEDC) state-of-the-art Large Rocket Test Facility J-6 performed a successful test of the Aerojet Rocketdyne Large Class Stage 2 (LCS2) rocket motor Feb. 19.

This test, sanctioned by the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC), was the largest solid propellant rocket motor test ever performed at AEDC.

The rocket motor is 92 inches in diameter, has a burn time of about one minute, and was designed to produce roughly 257,000 pounds force of thrust.

“The primary purpose of this simulated altitude test firing is to demonstrate the performance, functionality and structural integrity of the motor case, solid propellant, nozzle and thrust vectoring actuation (TVA) systems,” said Richard Kirkpatrick, an AEDC Space and Missile Test Branch project manager for the test. “Measured motor performance will be used to help determine if the LCS2 program goals are met.”

AEDC’s J-6 was the most appropriate facility for this test because of the facilities capabilities.
“AEDC’s J-6 test facility is the only test facility that can test large solid rocket motors at simulated altitude conditions,” Kirkpatrick said. “Given AEDC’s distinguished history and successful test experience with rocket motors of this size, it was an easy decision to select us … AFNWC and Aerojet Rocketdyne personnel were very pleased with the overall test program.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne states that the LCS2 motor is under AFNWC development as a demonstration of enabling technologies to support strategic deterrence, conventional strike and rapid space response. The rocket motor is designed with similar requirements of the Peacekeeper Stage 2 motor but includes a longer case, domestic composite case materials, and an electro-mechanical TVA system.

“This stage is a significant improvement over currently fielded systems,” said Tyler Evans, Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president, Rocket Shop defense advanced programs. “The application of this advanced design, using affordable materials and subsystems provided by our strong industrial base partnerships, will reduce future acquisition program costs and improve system reliability. These technologies are relevant across all Air Force and Navy missiles, whether for strategic deterrence, prompt strike or other applications, and they are key to sustaining the needs of the nation’s warfighters.”

The LCS2 motor can be used for other vehicle applications such as an upper stage for space launch and target launch vehicles.




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