Yesterday, a successful test firing of an Ariane 5 solid rocket booster took place at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. The test was part of the Ariane 5 Research and Technology Accompaniment (ARTA) Programme.
The ARTA Programme, part of ESA's Ariane 5 Development Programme, is responsible for verifying the stability of the qualification status of the Ariane 5 launch system, checking the current production and qualifying required modifications to the launcher design before they enter service.
The main goal of this ARTA test was to verify the qualification status of the current solid rocket booster (MPS - Moteur Propergol Solide) production with respect to potential manufacturing process drifts.
As subsidiary but equally important objectives, some improvements and new materials to deal with current obsolescence were tested. Additionally, the test allowed the checking of some modifications made to improve the MPS behaviour with respect to critical points, in particular, the reduction of pressure oscillations.
The test was performed in the booster engine test stand (BEAP - Banc d'Essais des Accélérateurs à Poudre), a test facility specifically designed for MPS vertical testing and located at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG - Centre Spatial Guyanais), Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
During the test, which had a duration of about 140 seconds, the motor delivered a mean thrust of approximately 600 tonnes. The booster was thoroughly instrumented and around 560 parameters were recorded throughout the test to monitor its performance and to provide the data required to evaluate the different test objectives. Initial analysis of the data confirms that performance was in line with predictions.
This was the fourth test of an MPS since the beginning of the ARTA 5 programme and the eleventh since the start of the Ariane 5 Development Programme. The next MPS ARTA test is expected in about two years from now.