NASA to test fire powerful booster

Test planned for just after 10 a.m. Tuesday

(Photo: NASA/Dimitrios Gerondidakis)
(Photo: NASA/Dimitrios Gerondidakis)

PROMONTORY, Utah – Smoke and fire will pour from the most powerful solid rocket booster ever built during a test this week of a key piece of NASA’s next exploration rocket.

In Promontory, Utah, Orbital ATK on Tuesday morning plans to fire the five-segment booster, a pair of which are slated to help lift the 322-foot Space Launch System rocket and an unmanned Orion crew capsule from Kennedy Space Center in late 2018.

News 6 partner Florida Today reported that the boosters are slightly longer than four-segment SRBs that helped launch space shuttles for 30 years, and will each generate 3.6 million pounds of thrust.

The qualification test will chill a horizontal booster to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to test it performance in colder temperatures. Data will be collected from 530 channels to measure results against 82 test objectives.

The test is planned just after 10 a.m. EDT, with live NASA TV coverage starting at 9:30 a.m.