Northrop Grumman has performed the initial ground test of an extended-length graphite epoxy motor designed to power the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle being developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin's joint venture United Launch Alliance.
The 63-inch GEM 63XL demonstrated a 90-second firing activity and generated 449K pounds of thrust at Northrop's Promontory, Utah, facility, the company said Thursday.
The test sought to verify the propellant grain, ballistics, nozzle and internal insulation of the rocket motor.
“GEM 63XL increases thrust and performance by 15-20 percent compared to a standard GEM 63," said Charlie Precourt, vice president of propulsion systems at Northrop.
The original variant received flight qualification in October of last year.