Space: The Booster Passes a Test

The Booster Passes a Test

As spectators cheered, a 600-ft. tongue of bright orange flame scorched a Utah hillside last week. Jubilation was in order: the firing marked the first full- scale test of the space shuttle's revamped solid rocket booster since last year's Challenger explosion. After a government commission pinned the tragedy on faulty seals in the booster, manufactured by Morton Thiokol, the company returned to the drawing board. Last week's firing, the first of six, tested new electrical heaters and reinforcing bands on the booster's joints. "We've taken a real bashing by the press," said Morton Thiokol Engineer Allan McDonald, who heads the redesign....