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On 28 April 2009, a qualification test firing of the third stage solid propellant motor for Europe’s new small launch vehicle took place at the Salto di Quirra Interforce Test Range in Sardinia, Italy.
At 15:30, the peace and quiet of the Sardinian coast was suddenly interrupted by a powerful, deep roar as a Zefiro 9A motor ignited for its final qualification-firing test. The motor took almost two minutes to completely burn its propellant load, during which time engineers and technicians, representatives of Avio, ELV and ESA/IPT held their breath, waiting for the outcome of this important test.
The main objectives of the test were to verify the behaviour of the Zefiro 9A motor in a fully flight-representative configuration, to confirm the design performance and to collect information for system studies at stage level.