An abbreviated version of a new solid rocket motor for the space shuttle was test-fired, and space agency officials said it appeared to successfully withstand the stress of launch pressure. "Externally, there is no evidence of a hot gas leak," said Jim Thomas, technical assistant to the solid rocket motor project manager at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The test, which lasted only a fraction of a second, was the first of a series using Marshall's shortened version of the solid-fuel rocket engine. The results will be analyzed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineers to determine if the new motor and critical new joints handle the stress load of a launch. NASA halted the rocket program and called for redesign of the motor after the Challenger explosion in 1986, which killed the crew of seven.