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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reusable Solid Rocket Motor and Solid Rocket Boosters

The Sequence

  • The reusable solid rocket motor, or RSRM, is assembled and tested by ATK Thiokol Propulsion near Promontory, Utah.

  • Each motor consists of four steel tubes, or segments, lined with 1.1 million pounds of solid fuel propellant. An igniter is installed in the forward segment and a nozzle in the aft segment.

  • The RSRM segments are shipped by rail to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

  • At Kennedy, the RSRM segments are joined with subassemblies built by United Space Alliance, including the forward assembly, aft skirt, frustum and nose cap.

  • These structures contain the booster guidance system -- the hydraulics system that steers the nozzles, booster separation motors and parachutes.

  • The combination of the reusable solid rocket motor segments and solid rocket booster subassemblies make up the flight configuration solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.

  • The SRBs come to life when the thrust vector control, or TVC, system is activated 28 seconds before launch.

  • After the main engines are running, the boosters are ignited by an electrical spark that sends flames from the igniter down the center of the propellant.

  • The boosters go to full power in two-tenths of a second. At the same time, the hold-down nuts are severed, and the shuttle lifts off.

  • The propellant in the forward segment of the RSRM is designed to provide fast acceleration, burning out 50 seconds after launch.

  • The speed of the SRBs causes them to coast upward for 13 miles before beginning their fall into the ocean.

  • The remaining propellant is shaped to burn at a slower rate to reduce stress on the vehicle and the crew during the period of maximum dynamic pressure, or max Q.

  • After about two minutes, all of the propellant is consumed and the boosters burn out and separate at an altitude of 28 miles and speed of 3,100 mph.

  • The boosters coast upward to a 41-mile altitude, then parachute back to the Atlantic Ocean about 140 miles from the launch site.

  • After splashdown, NASA's recovery ships, Liberty Star and Freedom Star, tow the boosters back to Cape Canaveral for disassembly and recycling.

  • The motors are returned to Utah for final cleaning, inspection and propellant reloading.

  • The booster subassemblies (the frustum, forward skirt and aft skirt) go to the United Space Alliance Assembly and Refurbishment Facility at Kennedy.

  • The parachutes are refurbished at Kennedy's Parachute Refurbishment Facility.

  • Source : Nasa

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