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Northrop Grumman Milestone for GBSD Rocket Motor

Insulation and Case Wind for First-Stage Motor

Northrop Grumman met a key manufacturing milestone in August, successfully performing the first insulation and case wind of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) first-stage solid rocket motor, the company announced on 12 November.

Working closely with the Air Force and [a] nationwide team of industry partners, we continue to make progress to modernize the country’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile system,” stated Steve Lunny, VP, GBSD Program at Northrop Grumman. “This manufacturing milestone further demonstrates the maturity of our first-stage solid rocket motor design, manufacturing process, tooling and business systems.

The insulation protects the outer casing of the motor from extreme temperatures caused by burning propellant, while the case wind process applies composite material around the insulation to form the outer structure, or shell, of the motor. Northrop Grumman has begun a similar process for the second-stage motor, as the programme team continues on track to the Air Force GBSD schedule.

This first-stage motor will now undergo testing to validate tooling and manufacturing processes. as well as pressure-testing to ensure structural design integrity. The new GBSD missile will be a three stage solid rocket motor, for which Northrop Grumman is building the first and second stages.

The company was awarded the GBSD engineering and manufacturing development contract in September last year, to begin modernising the nation’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile system, and is leading a nationwide team that includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, CAE, Clark, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Lockheed Martin, and Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies. Overall, the GBSD programme will involve over 10,000 people across the US.


Composite material form the outer case of the first-stage rocket motor. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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