[FPSPACE] 50 year old Minuteman rocket motor successfully fired

Peter Pesavento pjp961 at svol.net
Thu Dec 15 12:59:42 EST 2016

When Americans build things, they are built to last..


>From the Los Angeles Air Force Base webpage




50-Year Old Minuteman Motor Passes Static Fire Test

By Alicia Garges, SMC Public Affairs, / Published December 14, 2016

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As part of its mission of storing and
maintaining decommissioned solid Intercontinental Ballistic Missile stages,
the Space and Missile Systems Center's Rocket System Launch Program, located
at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, routinely conducts robust aging
surveillance efforts including conducting static fire tests. However, one
recent test of a Minuteman II motor was unique because it successfully
tested a motor that was more 50 years old - beating the record of the oldest
motor previously tested by nearly four years.

At 50 years and two months old, the motor was well past its operational
days. Today motors from older versions of Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs
are no longer used to propel missiles; however, they can still be used to
launch scientific missions and targets to realistically test ballistic
missile defenses for the Missile Defense Agency. To assure the continued
safety and capability of the oldest rockets to ever fly, RSLP conducts
periodic static fire tests like the one conducted on Oct. 13 in Utah.

During a static fire, the motor is instrumented, locked down and fired on
the ground - horizontally in this case. Each motor is checked, refurbished,
and certified prior to flight or static fire. It took more than 6 months to
refurbish the 50 year old motor. Testing is required to ensure that the
motors are still safe to store and/or able to perform within specifications.
Short of actually flying a missile, static firings are the most realistic
way of testing. 

This static test had four main objectives: 
- Checkout how aging effects:
o Ballistic performance (thrust, chamber pressure, etc.)
o Internal insulation erosion
o Nozzle
o Igniter
- Demonstrate subsystem reliability
- Evaluate New Split Line Putty formulation 
- Vibration and temperature environments for SE-13G Battery

The static fire motor passed the test and provided data that shows the rest
of the fleet is available to fly missions for another year. 



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