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KM-V1SIM Atmospheric Firing Test

The kick motor firing test of the M-V rocket, which will launch Japan's first lunar explorer LUNAR-A, was conducted on March 11, 2003, at Noshiro Testing Center (NTC).

The LUNAR-A launch is planned for after FY2004. The test confirmed the thermal resistance of the nozzle throat of kick motor KM-V1, which will serve as a booster to put the LUNAR-A into lunar transfer orbit, and the performance of other features.

Since the failure of the M-V-4 launch in February 2000 was caused by the broken nozzle throat on the 1st stage motor, ISAS focused research on the improvement of throat material, switching from graphite to 3D-woven carbon-carbon composite, which has a stronger thermal structure. This particular test was the last one for the 2nd improved M-V rocket.

The weather on the day was 0°C, cloudy with occasional snow. The ignition time was set at 4:30 p.m. in consideration of local high-school entrance exams. The countdown began in front of about 50 people from around NTC who had gathered to watch in the cold weather. When ignition was announced, the motor emitted a slow orange flash with a roar and kept firing approx. 1.3 tons of propellant for about 90 sec. while clouds of white smoke poured out.

The test was performed smoothly. The throat's measured firing lost ratio matched our projection well, and the material's thermal structure stability was also good. Thus, the test was successful. We sincerely thank the organizations related to the test and the local people in Asanai, Noshiro, etc., for their support.

March 19, 2003