Military Embedded Systems

Solid rocket booster avionics for SLS passes qualification test


September 07, 2017

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Solid rocket booster avionics for SLS passes qualification test
A graphic rendering depicts what NASA's Space Launch System will look like during launch. Courtesy Orbital ATK.

DULLES, Va. Orbital ATK recently finished a milestone qualification test of the avionics system for the solid rocket boosters the company has developed and is now manufacturing for NASA?s Space Launch System (SLS).

Orbital ATK reports that qualification of the solid rocket booster avionics system included a rigorous and comprehensive test series that verified the precision of the system in a number of situations, both expected and abnormal. Key interactions confirmed for the avionics during qualification testing included the ability to initiate booster ignition, control the booster during flight, and terminate flight.

The avionics system, says the company, is considered the “brains of the booster” as it initiates booster ignition, communicates with the SLS launch vehicle computers during flight, and triggers booster separation upon completion of the first stage burn. The system is now qualified as meeting NASA’s human-rating requirements, which provide a level of redundancy to ensure a safe flight environment through various phases of lift-off, ascent, and staging.

Jeff Foote, vice president of NASA Programs for Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division, said of the test: “Completion of booster avionics system qualification is a significant step forward in supporting overall vehicle qualification and launch of the first flight of SLS – Exploration Mission-1. We are proud of this accomplishment and look forward to completing full certification of the booster later this year.”

Completion of this milestone avionics test is an important step toward preparing the SLS and Orion spacecraft for their first flight in 2019; two Orbital ATK five-segment rocket boosters will be used on each SLS launch to help provide initial thrust for the first two minutes of flight. The Space Launch System is NASA’s new heavy-lift launch vehicle that is aimed at carrying crew and cargo to destinations beyond earth orbit, including to cislunar space and eventually to


Mars. SLS, along with the Orion spacecraft, will enable human exploration on a variety of missions to deep space.


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