[FPSPACE] 50 year old Minuteman rocket motor successfully fired

Keith Gottschalk kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Thu Dec 15 15:14:10 EST 2016

  Storing a rocket for fifty years reminds one of a famous anecdote. When
in 1957 von Braun was ordered by the army to destroy the 3rd stage for his
Jupiter C to make doubly sure he would not launch it before Vanguard,
Werner dodged the order by storing the 3rd stage on the shelf, to test how
long it would take to decompose, and hence be destroyed.

   This of course ensured that when that infamous order was reversed, he
could speedily launch in 1958!    -   Keith

On Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 7:59 PM, Peter Pesavento <pjp961 at svol.net> wrote:

> When Americans build things, they are built to last….
> From the Los Angeles Air Force Base webpage
> http://www.losangeles.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/
> 1030356/50-year-old-minuteman-motor-passes-static-fire-test#
> .WFLQHLnYp4x.twitter
> *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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