Solid Rocket Motor Design & Applications

Course Length:



$1990 per person


This three-day course provides a detailed look at the design of solid rocket motors (SRMs), a general understanding of solid propellant motor and component technologies, design drivers, critical manufacturing process parameters, sensitivity of system performance requirements on SRM design, reliability, and cost; and transportation and handling, and integration into launch vehicles and missiles. The general approaches used in the development of new SRMs are covered, including the methods used to balance customer vs. SRM manufacturer requirements, design and cost trade-studies, and timelines for the development and qualification of a SRM.

All types of SRMs are included, with emphasis on current motos for commercial and DoD/NASA launch vehicles such as LM Athena series, OSC GMD, Pegasus and Taurus series, MDA SM-3 series,strap-on motors for the Delta series, Titan V, and Ares / Constellation vehicle. The use of surplus military motors (Minuteman, Peacekeeper, etc.) for target and sensor development and university research is discussed. The course also introduces nano technologies (nano carbon fiber) and their potential use for NASA’s deep space missions.

What you will learn:

  • Solid rocket motor principles and key requirements.
  • Motor design drivers and sensitivity on the design, reliability, and cost.
  • Detailed propellant and component design features and characteristics.
  • Propellant and component manufacturing processes.
  • SRM/Vehicle interfaces, transportation, and handling considerations.
  • Development approach for qualifying new SRMs.

Course Outline:

  1. Introduction to Solid Rocket Motors (SRMs). SRM terminology and nomenclature, survey of types and applications of SRMs, and SRMcomponent description and characteristics.
  2. SRM Design and Applications. Fundamental principles of SRMs, key performance and configuration parameters such as total impulse, specific impulse, thrust vs. motor operating time, size constraints; basic performance equations, internal ballistic principles, preliminary approach for designing SRMs; propellant combustion characteristics (instability, burning rate), limitations of SRMs based on the laws of physics, and comparison of solid to liquid propellant and hybrid rocket motors.
  3. Sensitivity of SRM Requirements. Impact of customer/system imposed requirements on design, reliability, and cost; SRM manufacturer imposed requirements and constraints based on computer optimization codes and general engineering practices and management philosophy.
  4. SRM Design Drivers and Technology Trade-Offs. Interrelationship of the performance parameters, component design trades versus cost and maturity of technology; exchange ratios and Rules of Thumb used in back-of-the envelope preliminary design evaluations.
  5. Key SRM Component Design Characteristics and Materials. Detailed description and comparison of performance parameters and properties of solid propellants including composite (i.e., HTPB, PBAN, and CTPB), nitro-plasticized composites, and double based or cross-linked propellants and why they are used for different motor and/or vehicle objectives and applications; motor cases, nozzles, thrust vector control & actuation systems; motor initiation and flight termination devices and ordnance.
  6. SRM Manufacturing/Processing Parameters. Description of critical manufacturing operations for propellant mixing, propellant loading into the SRM, propellant inspection and acceptance testing, and propellant facilities and tooling, and SRM components fabrication.
  7. SRM Transportation and Handling Considerations. General understanding of requirements and solutions for transporting, handling, and processing different motor sizes and DOT propellant explosive classifications and licensing and regulations.
  8. Launch Vehicle Interfaces, Processing and Integration. Key mechanical, functional, and electrical interfaces between the SRM and launch vehicle and launch facility. Comparison of interfaces for both strap-on and straight stack applications.
  9. SRM Development Requirements and Processes. Approaches and timelines for developing new SRMs. Description of a demonstration and qualification program for both commercial and government programs. Impact of decisions regarding design philosophy (state-of-the-art versus advanced technology) and design safety factors. Motor sizing methodologyand studies (using computer aided design models). Customer oversight and quality program. Motor cost reduction approaches through design, manufacturing, and acceptance. Castor 120 motor development example.


If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead time. For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at


  • Richard Lee has more than 45 years of experience in the space and missile industry. He was a Senior Program Manager at Thiokol, where he was instrumental in the development of the Castor 120 SRM. His experience includes managing the development and qualification of DoD SRM subsystems and components for the Small ICBM, Peacekeeper and other R&D programs. Mr. Lee has extensive experience in developing and coordinating SRM performance and interface requirements at all levels in the space and missile industry, including government agencies, prime contractors and suppliers. He has been very active in coordinating functional and physical interfaces with the commercial spaceports in Florida, California, and Alaska. He has developed safety criteria with the participation of representatives from academia, private industry and government agencies (USAF SMC, 45th Space Wing and Research Laboratory; FAA/AST; NASA Headquarters and NASA centers at Kennedy, Johnson, Marshall, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and the Army Space and Strategic Defense Command. He has also consulted with launch vehicle contractors in the design, material selection, and testing of SRM propellants and components. Mr. Lee has a MS in Engineering Administration and a BS in EE from the University of Utah.

    Contact this instructor (please mention course name in the subject line)

Request On-Site Quote