Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., conducted a hot fire of a 24-inch subscale solid rocket motor Sept. 14. 2023.
The test, conducted in Marshall’s East Test Area, produced more than 82,000 pounds of thrust and was part of an ongoing series of developmental tests for an upgraded booster design for future configurations of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket.
Beginning with Artemis IX, the SLS rocket in its Block 2 configuration will use the BOLE (booster obsolescence and life extension) booster. The more powerful solid rocket motor will give the SLS rocket the capability to send even heavier payloads to the Moon and other areas of deep space for future Artemis missions.
The test was the third in the series to evaluate the alternate materials for possible use in the nozzle and motor insulation and built upon prior tests at Marshall in 2022 and 2021. The subscale motor tests are an essential part of learning how a full-scale BOLE booster will perform during flight.
For this latest test, NASA and lead booster contractor Northrop Grumman used different materials for both the nozzle and the insulation with the intent of improving the erosion resistance of the components. Engineers will use the data from the test to analyze how the nozzle and insulation performed and compare it to results from the second test.
The SLS solid rocket boosters are the largest, most powerful boosters ever built for spaceflight. They produce more than 75 percent of total thrust for the first two minutes of flight.
NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.
For more on NASA SLS visit https://www.nasa.gov/sls