AEDC supported testing of the motor for the Orbital ATK Antares rocket set to launch tonight

Test Engineers at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., assisted in the testing and development of the Orbital ATK CASTOR® 30XL rocket motor for the Antares, which launched Oct. 18 tonight at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va.

The ATK Antares rocket will be carrying cargo to the International Space Station.

In the spring of 2013, testing of the CASTOR® 30XL was completed in J-6 Large Rocket Motor Testing Facility at AEDC. The test measured thrust, pressure and burn rate, all of which depended on the internal pattern of the propellant during the firing in J-6.

“AEDC is the only place to test this motor, due to their unique capability of being able to simulate upper atmospheric conditions,” said the ATK program manager for CASTOR® 30XL at that time.

Randy Quinn, a project manager for the AEDC Space and Missiles Complex, stated during this test, “It’s a relatively new motor with a pretty sophisticated composite case design, strong enough to withstand the stresses it will experience during firing, but balancing an increase in performance with a lower weight and cost of production.”

The upper stage developmental rocket motor underwent final qualification static fire testing in J-6 to boost the power of Orbital’s Antares launch vehicle, ahead of a series of flight tests scheduled that took place at Wallops Flight Facility, the last of which were in 2014.

The CASTOR 30XL motor is designed to provide greater payload for cargo resupply.

A portion of the information in this release was taken from the AEDC release “AEDC team supports testing of CASTOR® 30XL rocket motor ahead of Antares flight testing,” published March 2013.

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