Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed full-scale static testing of a new solid rocket motor developed in less than a year as part of the Solid Motor Annual Rocket Technology Demonstrator (SMART Demo). The company also used 3D printing in the process.
The SMART Demo program demonstrated several innovative technologies and alternative manufacturing materials and processes. These innovations reduced the development lead time by 75 percent. The most significant innovations include:
Advanced tooling and components of the solid rocket motor nozzle structure, manufactured using additive manufacturing techniques.
A new, cost-effective solid rocket motor propellant that also works at low temperatures.
Alternative suppliers and new materials that can replace other long-term materials whose supply chains are currently challenged.
Wendy Williams, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman: “We are designing and building the world’s largest and most advanced solid rocket motors, and we’re proving we can do so with shorter lead times, an expanded supply chain and increased agility for our customers.”
The SMART Demo demonstrates the effective implementation of new technologies, materials and processes for solid rocket motors to reduce development time and cost and improve motor performance. The effort includes the design, development, build and test of a new solid rocket motor and associated tooling.
Northrop Grumman plans to conduct SMART demo tests annually as the company continues to invest in solid rocket motor development and propulsion. The program expands and strengthens Northrop Grumman’s supplier base by facilitating the testing and qualification of new materials, processes and alternative suppliers that produce critical materials with faster and more efficient processes.
In addition, Northrop Grumman is currently developing five new engines simultaneously and expects to significantly increase engine production by 2030. To support this, 11 new buildings are being constructed and 16 others are being modified.
The successful completion of the SMART Demo Test represents an important milestone in the development of solid rocket motors. Through innovative technologies and more efficient manufacturing processes, Northrop Grumman is strengthening its position as a leader in aerospace engineering and making a significant contribution to the advancement of rocket technology.