Northrop Test-Fires New GEM Motor for ULA-Made Heavy-Lift Rocket

Northrop Test-Fires New GEM Motor for ULA-Made Heavy-Lift Rocket
GEM 63XL static test Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the thrust, internal insulation and other performance aspects of a new 63-inch-diameter strap-on booster designed to propel United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur heavy-lift rocket.

The company said Thursday its Graphite Epoxy Motor 63XL, a new variant of the GEM 63 booster, generated almost 449,000 pounds of thrust during a 90-second validation ground test in Promontory, Utah.

The static test also exhibited the GEM 63XL motor's ballistics, nozzle and propellant grain performance in a high-temperature condition.

Charlie Precourt, vice president for propulsion systems at Northrop, said the new rocket motor builds on the company's decades of strap-on booster and heavy-lift mission expertise.

Northrop has delivered propulsion systems to ULA and its predecessors for almost six decades. The first GEM motor, developed in the 1980s, propelled the legacy Delta II rocket.

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