General Plastics’ materials were put to the test in NASA’s Space Shuttle program as key components for the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSRM) system. These solid-rocket boosters helped power the orbiter during liftoff. Each space-shuttle launch required the boost of two RSRMs to lift the 4.5-million-pound shuttle vehicle. After burning for approximately two minutes, the RSRMs were jettisoned from the shuttle, falling harmlessly into the Atlantic Ocean for recovery and reuse. Before retirement, each RSRM could be used as many as 20 times.
Just before the used RSRM casings plunged into the sea, a linear-shaped charge system severed the composite nozzle from the casing, preventing damage to either part upon splashdown.
General Plastics provided the RSRM manufacturer ATK Launch Systems with a molded rigid foam standoff that properly positioned the shaped charge at the correct distance from the casing surface. It also protected the charge and the casing from launch damage and combustion products during flight.
ATK tapped General Plastics to participate in this high-profile program because of our unwavering dedication to quality and our excellent process controls at every level. Because the shuttle was a 100-percent man-rated system, it was imperative that every part used was made with the utmost care and consistency. In fact, ATK conducted approximately 110,000 quality-control inspections on every RSRM flight set to verify flawless operation.
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