The engine fired for about 90 seconds, and produced nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust.
Northrop Grumman announced on January 21 that it had completed a steady launch of the belt-mounted steel booster it had developed for the United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur missile.
A test firing test of the 63-inch-long (GEM 63XL) expanded epoxy graphite engine was carried out Thursday at the company’s facility in Promontory, Utah.
In August, Northrop Grumman completed the first ground test of the GEM 63XL. The engine was launched in August at a cold temperature in a qualification test. This last test was at a high temperature to validate the flight engine.
The company said that in static testing on January 21, it fired the engine for about 90 seconds, producing approximately 449,000 pounds of thrust to check the engine’s performance capability. The burn also checks the internal insulation of the engine, thrust grain ejections, and the nozzle at elevated temperatures.
The GEM 63XL version is 72 feet long while the GEM 63 engines used by ULA in the Atlas 5 missile are 66 feet long. The GEM 63XL engines are expected to fly on the Vulcan Centaur missile on its first launch later this year.