M-14-3TVC Static Firing Test
The M-V-4 launch failure in February last year was due to the malfunction of the first-stage M-14 motor. Subsequently, the nozzle throat material was changed from graphite to 3D-C/C in order to enhance its reliability. The test this time was to verify performance after the change and was carried out using a flight-type motor at Noshiro Testing Center. The operation was divided into two parts: assembly operation (October 7~16) and firing operation (November 20~December 19). The firing test conducted on December 12 went surprisingly well with good ignition and combustion, obtaining expected propulsion and internal pressure pattern and excellent nozzle condition after firing. This test completes a series of final verification tests on every stage motor, namely M-14, M-25, M-34 and KM-V2, and the preparation of the main propulsion system for the next M-V-5 launch system.
As this firing test was on the motor that had caused the M-V-4 launch failure as stated above, team members were in higher spirits than usual. However, this is not the end of everything. We will continue the testing for M-V-5, 2 and 6, and members will never be completely satisfied until ASTRO-E II is successfully launched.
The operation this time seemed a continual fight against the wind. Although we always have to see to the direction of wind at firing tests so that the combustion gas will not flow to private houses, we were forced to extend our timeline for four days due to the typical unfavorable direction of wind in December (westerly or northwesterly wind). In addition, we were also troubled by a gale. It was impossible to hang up and bring down rocket parts to and from a vertical assembly tower. The gale was too violent to do fieldwork to begin with. On top of that, the low temperature was really telling on us. Days with the highest temperature at 0 or 1°C seemed to last forever. When finally we finished dismantling everything and warmed ourselves in the main building, Mr. Yamada, former stand team chief, said in spite of himself, “I had enough of it!”
April 15, 2002