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Butte-Silver Bow County will erect a permanent building in its TIFID for the testing of rocket engines.

Kristen Rosa, administrator of the Tax Increment Finance Industrial District, said that the steel-sided structure could be in operation by next spring.

"It will help them be able to test bigger and bigger rocket engines," Rosa said.

The building is being designed by Greg Jones of Robert Peccia & Associates, a Butte engineering firm. Jones said that the enclosed, pre-fabricated steel building will feature a "reaction block" of reinforced concrete that can withstand 100,000 pounds of force. The rocket engines will be secured to that block and will never leave the ground.

Space Propulsion Group Inc., a Stanford University-affiliated company, visited Butte a number of times last year to test fuels used in hybrid rockets. The approximately eight-second tests were done on the smaller 11-inch models, but thanks to the new building companies will be able to test larger prototypes. The results of the test are studied and companies attempt to perfect the mixture of the fuels used to power their engines.

The building, which could be complete by next spring, will be paid for and owned by Butte-Silver Bow. It will be leased to Montana Aerospace Development Association. Companies will then pay MADA to use the facility.

Currently, the Space Propulsion Group is the only customer who has visited Butte, but MADA has been talking to other jet and rocket engine companies about possibly testing here as well.

The TIFID is located southwest of Butte just west of Interstate 15. The test facility will be built on the former Rhodia property.

Reporter Tim Trainor may be reached via e-mail at tim.trainor@lee.net or call 496-5519.

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