Rocket Motor Test Fire at Northrop-Grumman

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by DavidTriplett, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. All, Northrop Grumman has scheduled a test fire of their new GEM 63 solid rocket motor for 1:00 PM MDT this Thursday at their Promontory, Utah, test site. I just found out about it and am now scheming a way to take off work and go. See info at this LINK. The last time we went was spectacular, with test fire of Orbital ATK's 5-Segment Rocket Motor. I came home with this:
    Rocket test-9589-sml.jpg
    For reference, the white rectangle in the lower left is a very large engine assembly building, and the rocket engine is mounted against an enormous thrust block a little to the right of the building. Here's a detail:
    Rocket test-9588-crop.jpg
    With better equipment and preparation I'm hoping for far better results this time around, though the rocket motor is smaller than the last one. I'll also be better situated, I hope to do both stills and video. The thing that's most difficult to capture is the sound, which is a force to be reckoned with all by itself. Anyway, here's hoping some of you might like to be there, too. If so, make sure to get there very early for a good spot. Traffic will be horrific coming and going, and the highway-side parking with a good view will be at a premium. Happy trails...
    MarcelRomviel and michaellinder like this.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Best of luck - looking forward to seeing the results!
  3. If you do make it there, David, bring hot dogs and marshmallows and a few sharp sticks--just to see the reaction on peoples' faces.
    PuntaColorada likes this.
  4. Please look into how toxic the combustion fumes are before getting a whiff of them. Solid boosters are likely to produce some nasty stuff.
  5. Yes. Test stands are well away (1.5-2+ miles) and down-wind of the public and highway. They won't execute the test if the winds aren't right.
  6. Here are some initial cuts from today's GEM 63 booster motor test fire at the Northrop Grumman test facility west of Brigham City, Utah. (Formerly Orbital ATK, formerly Morton Thiokol.) I ran three bodies today: A D5100 with 70-300mm for video; a D7100 with Nikkor 200-500mm/5.6 fixed on a tripod and automatically shooting one frame every 3 seconds, and my D810 with 24-85mm handheld. All three were set to underexpose by up to two stops, since I knew that the rocket exhaust would be very bright and tend to throw off the auto exposure. All stills were shot in RAW. These few were culled from several hundred exposures. Maximum achievable resolution was quite limited due to heat haze, as we were one mile/1.6km from the test stand. I will post a more complete selection in a gallery with my portfolio, if you're interested.
    GEM 63 Booster-04-6015.jpg
    That's my gear on the left. A local university had an acoustics research team on site to make recordings. That's their microphone on the tall stand.
    GEM 63 Booster-07-6017.jpg
    GEM 63 Booster-11-6021.jpg
    GEM 63 Booster-15-6035.jpg
    GEM 63 Booster-09-5826.jpg
    GEM 63 Booster-21-6073.jpg
    GEM 63 Booster-24-6104.jpg
    GEM 63 Booster-27-5830.jpg
  7. Fireworks032acr.jpg
    The local branch of JPL practicing interception

    I did spend my youth within a few miles of some of the ICBM launching sites featured in Command and Control.
    Burpleson Air Force Base in Dr. Strangelove looks just like the SAC base in the same area. I think General Ripper in the film was the father of one of my friends.

    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  8. David, I wish I had this location in my travel plans. Sadly, not. I wish you well in your endeavor to capture sound!
  9. This series is not as dramatic as the images in the OP, but it is more informative. Excellent work, David.
  10. True, and for good reason: This rocket motor was only a fraction of the size and power of the previous test. It was still very impressive, but the magnitude of the event was simply not in the same league as the 5 section SLS test. Also, the other test happened fairly early in the morning, while this test was at near local solar noon, so the sun angles were far less dramatic. Still, well worth the time and effort, even if the photographs are less compelling. It's the experience that counts.
    michaellinder likes this.
  11. LAUNCH01.JPG
    My father-in-law was with a photo squadron in the Air Force. He got some great photos. Great old guy: West Point, served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and he's 94 and still reasonably lively.
    MarcelRomviel and DavidTriplett like this.

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