ATK successfully ground tests new CASTOR® 30 upper stage solid rocket motor

Release Number: 120909

ATK’s CASTOR® 30 was ground tested at the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) on December 9, 2009 in a specialized vacuum chamber that simulates the altitude at which the upperstage motor will operate. This was the longest rcoket motor test ever in the J-6 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility, which became operational in 1994. (Air Force photo by Rick Goodfriend)

ATK’s CASTOR® 30 was ground tested at the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) on December 9, 2009 in a specialized vacuum chamber that simulates the altitude at which the upperstage motor will operate. This was the longest rcoket motor test ever in the J-6 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility, which became operational in 1994. (Air Force photo by Rick Goodfriend)


Alliant Techsystems successfully tested its newly developed CASTOR® 30 upper stage solid rocket motor Dec. 9 at the U.S. Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tennessee.

The test was a significant milestone for ATK, which developed the motor using internal research and development funding. The CASTOR 30 fills a key position in the company's "Family of Motors" product line concept. This concept provides a set of fully developed rocket motors to the market place that have been specifically selected to satisfy the maximum number of current and future military and commercial customer missions.

A version of this motor is being used by Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) in its Taurus®( )II medium-class launch vehicle. It is slated to perform commercial cargo re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, to be demonstrated under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program for later delivery missions to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services contract. A slightly modified version of the CASTOR 30 is also being used as the basis for the third stage of the U.S. Air Force Large Class (92-inch) Stage (LCS) program. Other potential applications have also been identified.

'This was an important test for ATK today," said Scott Lehr, ATK vice president and general manager of Strategic and Commercial Systems. "The CASTOR 30 solid rocket motor offers a number of low-cost, high-performance features and fills a niche in the market that will make it an important part of ATK's future solid rocket motor business. We see this as an important addition to our Family of Motors product portfolio."

The CASTOR 30 is designed to ignite at altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. In order to accurately test the motor performance the static fire was conducted at AEDC using a vacuum chamber specially designed to simulate upper atmospheric conditions. All channels of data were collected which will allow ATK to validate their predictive models. The motor utilized a prototype version of a newly developed Electromagnetic (EM) Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system, manufactured by Moog Inc, to provide nozzle steering. This system, once qualified, will also have applications across multiple solid rocket motor product lines.