New 26 August 2002     –     Back to [ A/CC Contour page | A/CC News | A/CC Topics ]

ATK STAR 30BP rocket on a stand, awaiting integration with the Contour spacecraft.

  Contour's STAR 30BP Kick Rocket

The three illustrations on this page, and the photo at right, were adapted by A/CC from the Contour mission site's Image Gallery and news materials. All the photos came from the Image Gallery and are credited to NASA.

The apparent failure of the Contour mission, which may or may not involve its rocket engine, might prompt you to want to know more about what's "under the hood" of a relatively low-budget spacecraft designed to visit minor objects. Since A/CC couldn't find a good reference to refer readers to about the STAR 30BP, we assembled this little montage.

At 503 kg. (1,109 lbs.), the ATK STAR 30BP solid-fuel "kick" motor comprised a bit more than half the total takeoff weight of the 970-kg. (2,138-lb.) Contour comet probe. Although this rocket was installed permanently into the craft, it had just one use: to perform a 50-second burn to take Contour out of Earth orbit seven weeks after launch. Illustration of the bottom of the Contour spacecraft, showing the STAR 30BP rocket exhaust cone protruding slightly at center.

Contour mission artist concept of how the 15 August 2002 firing was supposed to go.

SpaceDaily reports that the STAR 30BP has been used in 86 previous missions with only two failures, and that the STAR series of Thiokol (now ATK Tactical Systems Co.) rockets goes all the way back to the early U.S. lunar program.

The STAR 30BP is shown in the photo at top right on a stand just before it was installed into the middle of the vehicle. In the illustration at left, you can see how the rocket exhaust cone protrudes slightly from the bottom center of the Contour spacecraft.

Prior to igniting the STAR 30BP, Contour was spun at 60 revolutions per minute for stability during the burn, thus the radial blur shown in the artist's concept at right of the rocket firing.

Before the side solar panels were installed, workers at the Kennedy Space Center Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2 lowered the Contour spacecraft onto the STAR 30BP motor.

The Contour spacecraft is about to be lowered onto its ATK STAR 30BP 'kick' motor.
Workers check the fit of the ATK STAR 30BP rocket into the Contour spacecraft.

In the photo below left, workers have just finished installing the fully assembled Contour spacecraft on top of the Delta II launch vehicle's third stage (an ATK STAR 48B rocket) at Launch Complex 17-A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The next step was to put into place the protective fairing. Below right is a photo of the launch on the morning of 3 July 2002.

Contour mounted on top of the third stage (an ATK STAR 48B) of the assembled Delta II rocket. Illustration of how Contour was fit onto the the Delta II launch vehicle's second and third stages.
Liftoff at 2:47am EDT on 3 July 2002.

See also A/CC's page on the Contour spacecraft chassis.

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