NASA and ATK (NYSE: ATK) are one step closer to meeting a 2017 launch date for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) after completion of a significant structural test of the booster's main attachment mechanism. NASA is developing SLS to take humans farther into deep space than ever before.
ATK designed and fabricated a new test stand for the Space Launch System booster forward skirt structural test, capable of applying millions of pounds of force to the structure.
"We test like we fly," said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of ATK's Space Launch Division, and former four-time space shuttle astronaut. "There are no second chances in spaceflight—we have to be certain we've got it right before we launch."
The article tested was a major load-bearing structure known as the forward skirt. The attach point on the forward skirt is where the main stage attaches to the five-segment solid rocket boosters that will launch SLS into deep space. ATK is providing the boosters as well as integration with the forward skirt.
The forward skirt is one of many critical components of the SLS booster design and must be tested to meet very demanding SLS requirements. For the test, ATK designed and fabricated a new test stand capable of applying millions of pounds of force to the structure.
Technicians tested the forward skirt at simulated lift-off and ascent conditions before testing it to failure. The final test demonstrated the structure's maximum load.
Key suppliers for the test article and test stand components were Votaw Precision, Santa Fe Springs, California; Force Measurements Systems, Fullerton, California; Cache Valley Machine, Logan, Utah; General Products, Brownboro, Alabama; Dye Precision, San Diego, California; Stars and Stripes Aerospace, Palestine, Texas; and Scot Forge, Spring Grove, Illinois.
NASA's SLS booster program remains on track for a late 2017 launch. The booster critical design review will be held this summer.
Source: Alliant Tech Systems, Inc (ATK) (NYSE: ATK)
Date: May 20, 2014