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Northrop Grumman completes solid booster soil test for ULA’s Vulcan Centaur



The GEM 63XL engines will fly on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket in 2021.

WASHINGTON – Northrop Grumman on August 13 completed the first qualification test of a new strap-on rocket engine developed for United Launch Alliance’s future Vulcan Centaur vehicle, the company said.

The static launch of the 63-inch-diameter graphite epoxy engine, known as the GEM 63XL, took place at Northrop Grumman’s plant in Promontory, Utah.

During the test, the engine fired for about 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of power to qualify the engine’s internal insulation, propellant, ballistics and nozzle, said Charlie Precourt, Northrop Grumman vice president of propulsion systems, in a news release.

Last month, Northrop Grumman delivered to ULA three GEM 63 solid rocket engines flying later this year on an Atlas 5 vehicle.

The GEM 63 is 66 meters long and the GEM 63XL version is 72 meters long. The GEM 63XL engines will fly on the Vulcan Centaur rocket in 2021

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GEM fastening motors were first developed in the early 1980s. GEM 40 was used in ULA’s Delta 2 launch vehicle. GEM 46 flew on Delta 2 Heavy, and GEM 60 flew on Delta 4 launches before retiring in 2019.


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