Encyclopedia Astronautica
SRB


Thiokol solid rocket engine. 11,520 kN. Isp=269s. Segmented solid rocket boosters for the compromised space shuttle design. Field joint design led to Challenger shuttle disaster. Production 1981-1985, after which superseded by RSRM's.

The decision to use segmented solid rocket boosters for the compromised space shuttle design, and the selection of Thiokol as the contractor, was fraught with political overtones. Aerojet in particular offered to build monolithic non-segmented SRB's from the Florida facility it had built in the 1960's for its 260 inch motors. The monolithic approach completely eliminated a number of potential failure modes, and should have resulted in considerably lower cost. One of these failure modes resulted in the Challenger disaster.

When the award to Thiokol was announced, Lockheed was so upset that they lodged a formal protest, but nothing ever came of it. Many years later, it was learned from a source close to the original source selection board that Thiokol was ranked fourth out of four by a wide margin. So, a new board had been convened, and strangely enough, Thiokol won. Many in the losing teams felt that this just may have been influenced by the fact that the Chairman of the Senate Space Committee was the senior senator from Utah. The selection of Thiokol was said to have been ordered directly from the Nixon White House. A similar situation occurred after the Shuttle disaster, with the decision, despite all that had happened, to continue with Thiokol's redesigned motors in lieu of solutions from other manufacturers (such as the cancelled ASRM).

Thrust (sl): 10,149.400 kN (2,281,676 lbf). Thrust (sl): 1,034,970 kgf. Propellant Formulation: PBAN.

Status: Study 1987.
Gross mass: 589,670 kg (1,299,990 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 86,183 kg (190,000 lb).
Height: 38.47 m (126.21 ft).
Diameter: 3.71 m (12.17 ft).
Thrust: 11,519.80 kN (2,589,754 lbf).
Specific impulse: 269 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 237 s.
Burn time: 124 s.
Number: 232 .

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Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • IHLLV American orbital launch vehicle. Same concept as Shuttle C. Shuttle orbiter replaced by recoverable pod with shuttle main engines and payload cannister. Quick way for US to obtain heavy payload capability and reduce shuttle cost per kg to orbit by 3 X. More...
  • Shuttle American winged orbital launch vehicle. The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. Redesign of the shuttle with reliability in mind after the Challenger disaster reduced maximum payload to low earth orbit from 27,850 kg to 24,400 kg. More...
  • Barbarian MDD American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Proposed launch vehicle for large SDI 'Star Wars' payloads. Expected to cost $ 400-500 million, the Barbarian could place the Zenith-Star chemical laser into low earth orbit. It would consist of 3 Shuttle SRM's, attached around a ring of six Delta RS-27 first stage boosters, which in turn clustered around a single Delta first stage booster that was the last stage of the launch vehicle. More...
  • Shuttle C American orbital launch vehicle. NASA Marshall design for a cargo version of the shuttle system. The shuttle orbiter would be replaced by an unmanned recoverable main engine pod. The same concept was studied earlier as the Interim Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (IHLLV) and as the Class I Shuttle Derived Vehicle (SDV). The Phase I two-SSME configuration would have a payload of 45,000 kg to low earth orbit. Design carried to an advanced phase in 1987-1990, but then abandoned when it was found the concept had no cost advantage over existing expenable launch vehicles. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Thiokol American manufacturer of rocket engines and rockets. Thiokol Corporation, Ogden, UT, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Solid Solid propellants have the fuel and oxidiser embedded in a rubbery matrix. They were developed to a high degree of perfection in the United States in the 1950's and 1960's. In Russia, development was slower, due to a lack of technical leadership in the area and rail handling problems. Solid propellants have the fuel and oxidiser embedded in a rubbery matrix. They were developed to a high degree of perfection in the United States in the 1950's and 1960's. In Russia, development was slower, due to a lack of technical leadership in the area and rail handling problems. More...

Bibliography
  • Dorman, Bernie, et. al., Aerojet: The Creative Company, Stuart F Cooper Company, Los Angeles, 1995..

Associated Stages
  • Shuttle SRB Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 589,670/86,183 kg. Thrust 11,520.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 269 seconds. Original configuration. More...

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