Aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman Corporation, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, USA, has successfully conducted a full-scale static test fire of a new solid rocket motor. Some of the nozzle components and tooling for the rocket motor were produced using Additive Manufacturing.
Developed in less than a year as part of Solid Motor Annual Rocket Technology Demonstrator (SMART Demo), the rocket showcased several innovative technologies, alternate manufacturing materials and processes, reducing lead times by 75%. The company also developed a cost-effective solid rocket motor propellant capable of operating at cold temperatures and made use of alternative suppliers and new materials which could supplement or replace materials to prevent supply chain issues.
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“We are designing and building the world’s largest and most advanced solid rocket motors, and we’re proving we can do so with shorter lead times, an expanded supply chain and increased agility for our customers,” stated Wendy Williams, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman.
The SMART Demo is intended to showcase the effective implementation of new solid rocket motor technologies, materials, and processes to reduce development time and costs and improve motor performance. The efforts include the design, development, build and test of a new solid rocket motor and associated tooling.
The demo is also expected to expand and strengthen Northrop Grumman’s supplier base by streamlining the test and qualification of new materials, processes and alternate suppliers who manufacture critical materials that use faster and more efficient processes.
Northrop Grumman intends to execute SMART Demo’s annually as it continues to invest and advance in solid rocket motor development and propulsion. It is currently developing five new motors concurrently, for the first time, and anticipates expansion and further increases in production by 2030. It is currently constructing eleven new buildings and modifying sixteen others to support new and existing programmes.