solid rocket boosters. Credits: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman: Successful Test of a New Solid Rocket Motor

Northrop Grumman achieved again as an Aerospace Company by testing a new Solid Rocket Motor developed in less than a year

The Aerospace and Defense Technology Corporation Northrop Grumman announced the successful full-scale hot static test of a new solid rocket motor developed within a year as part of its Solid Motor Annual Rocket Technology Demonstrator (SMART Demos). The test was conducted on December 7th at their facility in the location named Promontory, an isolated area of ​​Utah, and the motor operated for thirty seconds, sufficient time to announce the test’s success.

SMART Demo Project

The objective of the SMART Demo project is to develop emerging technologies capable of supporting various programs and operative conditions. Indeed, the new motor tested on December 7th incorporates several innovative technologies, such as a new low-cost fuel that can operate across a huge range of temperatures and additively manufactured components (titanium structure in the nozzle). The crucial aspect is that this industrial process can reduce production and delivery time for those engine components by up to 75%.

Northrop Grumman's static fire test conducted in the Promontory test area, Utah. Credit: Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman’s static fire test conducted in the Promontory test area, Utah.
Credits: Northrop Grumman

The company plans to conduct a SMART demonstration every year, to advance in the field of solid rocket motor development and propulsion. At the present moment, the Northrop Grumman Corporation is expanding its engine manufacturing capabilities, as it plans to simultaneously develop five new engines, construct 11 new buildings, and modify 16 others to support new and existing programs.


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Northrop Grumman’s Propulsion Products Catalogue

Northrop Grumman has published a very large and detailed catalog of the engines they produce. They span from space propulsion to ordnance and launch structures, depicting more than 60 years of expertise in the field of high-performance and reliable propulsion solutions for the aerospace industry. Categorized into Large Motors, Small Motors, and Launch Structures, the product data sheets offer a concise overview of key design and performance characteristics for initial assessment. The Company consistently adapts its products to evolving customer requirements, employing meticulous design, analysis, and testing processes. 

In the inventory is it possible to find every variant of ORION, GEM, CASTOR, RSRM, SLS, STAR, ASAS engines, and more.

Scheme depicting the wide range of motors produced by Northrop Grumman. Credits: Northrop Grumman
Scheme depicting the wide range of motors produced by Northrop Grumman.
Credits: Northrop Grumman

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Example: Successful launch of ULA Atlas V with the employment of GEM63 engine

The successful launch of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V on September 9 was made possible by the contribution of five Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) solid rocket boosters from Northrop Grumman Corporation. This mission was carried out in partnership with the United States Office of National Reconnaissance and the U.S. Space Systems Command Space Force. They provided approximately 1.85 million pounds of thrust.

Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 63) solid rocket boosters. Credits: Northrop Grumman
Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM 63) solid rocket boosters. Credits: Northrop Grumman

The mission is vital to national defense and will help improve U.S. space domain awareness and satellite threat intelligence. In addition to the second-stage propellant tanks, Northrop Grumman will continue to supply GEM 63 rocket motors to support ULA’s Atlas V, and GEM 63XL rocket motors to help power ULA’s Vulcan rocket.


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Beatrice Romeo

Beatrice Romeo

Master student in Aerospace Engineering.
Ocean activist and kitesurfing athlete.

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