Flames, smoke and a deafening noise accompanied the first firing test of Vega’s Zefiro 9 third-stage solid rocket motor. A first examination of the data indicates that everything went well at the test carried out yesterday at Salto de Quirra in southeast Sardinia.
The Zefiro 9 motor, with an overall height of 3.17 meters and a diameter of 1.92 metres, contains a propellant mass of 10 tonnes and provides a maximum thrust of 305 kN (in vacuum). For yesterday’s test the nozzle was adapted for sea-level conditions by reducing its expansion ratio from 58 to 16, thus lowering the thrust to 280 kN.
At the Salto de Quirra test site, the powerful motor was placed in a cage-like structure and fixed to the bench bastion. Safety devices were put in place to destroy the motor in case of anomalous behaviour. Fortunately these precautions were not needed as the testing proceeded flawlessly.
Franco Bonacina | alfa
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