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Friday, September 3, 2010

Testing Largest Solid Rocket, NASA Outdoes All Homemade Flamethrower Videos

Posted by videodrome



Today, on a hillside in Promontory, Utah, NASA and its contractor ATK Aerospace Systems successfully completed a two-minute, full-scale test of the largest and most powerful solid rocket motor ever designed for flight.

But the motor has nowhere to go. Borrowed from the nearly extinct Space Shuttle system, which uses solid rocket boosters to get to space, the latest rocket was originally intended for the Constellation program, whose future has been cast in doubt by the Obama administration. And now critics are raising more questions than ever about the wisdom of using solid rockets, which are considered expensive and inapplicable to other uses.

But they are generally lighter than liquid fuel, and they’re proven to work. As the New York Times explains, solid rockets have a long history, dating back to the gunpowder-packed rockets invented by the Chinese perhaps a millennium ago. Solid rocket fuel is a mix of aluminum, ammonium perchlorate, a polymer called polybutadiene acrylonitrile, epoxy and iron oxide poured into cylindrical steel casings 12 feet wide, where it hardens into the consistency of a pencil eraser. Burning the fuel expels hot gases that generate thrust. A lot of thrust.

And for a moment, all of these crazy kids shut up.