There are always events that may make a ripple in the world news but are huge when it comes to the location it occurs. Today was one such thing for us. Today Orbital ATK tested the largest and most powerful rocket booster today at Promontory Point in Utah.
It is a rather exciting and momentous event for those of us who live here. For the MMS staff, there is an even larger tie. Many have spouses or family members who are either currently working or have worked on the massive rockets that have taken astronauts, space probes and robots up into space. My own grandfather worked on the boosters for the Space Shuttle Program.
This morning, we went to go watch the QM-1 rocket booster testing. It was an astonishing sight. Today they tested the rocket booster at high temperature ranges. They heated the booster to 90ºF to simulate hot weather conditions then ignited the booster. From where we were watching, it took 5 seconds for the tremendous sound to reach us. 5 seconds may not seem like a lot of time but it certainly is strange to see something before you can hear it.
During the test, more than 531 instruments were use to monitor and gauge 102 design objectives. Wow! That is a lot of equipment. The test also demonstrated the boosters ability to meet ballistic performance requirements as well as demonstrating the upgrades to insulation, liner and nozzle design. If you want to learn more about this test or to watch it for yourself, check out http://www.nasa.gov/ for more information or check out this article.