PROMONTORY – By Cari Doutre – August 11, 2020
The first qualification ground test for Northrop Grumman Corporation's extended-length 63-inch Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) will be held on Thursday, August 13, 2020 in Promontory, but will be closed to public viewers - including the media.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no in-person media or public viewing opportunities,” stated Kendra Kastelan from Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Public viewing areas normally open for the public to park their vehicles and watch the tests will be closed due to COVID-19 concerns and large group gatherings. Large crowds often form during Northrop Grumman ground tests, making social distancing guidelines difficult to maintain.
The Box Elder Sheriff’s Office released a statement on social media on August 7, adding, “Additionally, because of fire concerns from dry grasses in the area, parking will not be allowed along the highway. Grasses along the highway have been mowed, but because of extreme dryness in the area, the potential for fire poses a threat to the public and to the tests themselves.”
“We are asking for cooperation from the public to avoid the area and join Northrop Grumman in disappointment that the public will be unable to witness the tests. We will be on location to support the tests and will have no choice but to turn people away if they attempt to park in the area,” stated the BESO.
Following the closed site ground test, Northrop Grumman will release photos, videos and further information to members of the media for the public to view. The GEM 63XL will be “used for the United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle. Vulcan will carry cargo destined for the Moon in 2021,” added Kastelan.