Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully tested a full-scale advanced solid rocket motor as part of an ongoing test series in support of Phase 2 of the Operational Fires (OpFires) program, a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) effort to develop a ground-launched tactical hypersonic weapon.Aerojet Rocketdyne performed the test in May at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Test Center as part of their Phase 2 contract and achieved the primary objective of demonstrating the technology that allows on-demand thrust termination. The solid rocket motor performed as expected through the duration of the static test, which was performed at sea level.
The static test follows earlier tests of booster test articles and a series of subscale propulsion system tests to support the program. The OpFires program is intended to use a highly mobile missile launcher to deliver a hypersonic boost-glide weapon capable of engaging high-value targets from standoff range through heavily defended airspace. Using advancements in digital engineering design and analysis tools, Aerojet was able to predict motor performance to within one percent of observed results. Such high-fidelity tools, along with data from this and subsequent tests, will be used to complete detailed design of the booster that will be part of missile fabrication, assembly, and flight testing in the OpFires project’s recently initiated Phase 3b.
“This successful test demonstrates Aerojet Rocketdyne’s advanced technological capabilities to ensure our warfighters maintain the advantage,” said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president.
“The completion of the initial second stage booster test firing is an important step towards the goal of an advanced system able to precisely deliver a variety of conventional payloads to targets over a wide range of distances,” said DARPA program manager Lt. Col. Joshua Stults.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a leader in advanced hypersonic propulsion technology, provides scramjets and warheads in addition to solid rocket motor boosters. The company is making hypersonic propulsion more affordable and preparing for production capacity through investments that include a new Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, Alabama, a new Engineering, Manufacturing and Development facility in Camden, Arkansas, and growing capabilities at the company’s 3DMT facility in Daytona Beach, Florida.