Big Blast Two

Technicians at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold AFB, Tenn., fired the largest solid rocket motor ever tested at the facility last week. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Large Class Stage 2 technology demonstrator, built for the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, is a proof of concept for potential Air Force and Navy intercontinental strike as well as space applications, according to a Feb. 14 release. “The primary purpose of this simulated altitude test firing is to demonstrate the performance, functionality, and structural integrity of the motor case, solid propellant, nozzle, and thrust vectoring actuation (TVA) systems,” said Richard Kirkpatrick, AEDC test project manager. The 92-inch diameter LCS2 is designed to specifications similar to the second stage of the Air Force’s now retired Peacekeeper ICBM, producing an estimated 257,000 pounds of thrust, according to the release. “This stage is a significant improvement over currently fielded systems,” such as the Minuteman III, said Tyler Evans, Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president for advance programs.