Posts Tagged ‘Pratt & Whitney’

Solid Rocket Boosters and the External Tank: the Heavy Lifters for NASA’s Space Shuttles

June 20, 2011

The Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) are a very crucial component of Space Shuttle flight.  They are a pair of large solid rockets used by the United States’ NASA Space Shuttle during the first two minutes of powered flight.  They can be found on either side of the orange colored external propellant tank.  Each one produces 80% more liftoff thrust than the engine on Rocketdyne’s F-1 rocket engine.  SRBs are the largest solid fueled rockets ever flown.  Once the Space Shuttle releases them and they fall in the ocean by parachute, they are recovered refurbished, reloaded with propellant, and reused for several missions.

Without the Space Shuttle Rocket Boosters or External Tank, NASA's Space Shuttle fleet would have been grounded, to say the least.

The Space Shuttle affixed to the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters, atop a crawler-transporter.

A Space Shuttle External Tank (ET) is the component of the Space Shuttle launch vehicle that contains the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer.  The external tank can be found between the pair of rocket boosters.  The ET is the largest element of the Space Shuttle.  It consists of three major components: the forward liquid oxygen (LOX) tank; an unpressurized intertank that contains most of the electrical components; and the aft liquid hydrogen (LH2) tank.  Over the years, NASA has tried to reduce the weight of the tank in order to be allowed more cargo-carrying capability, and they have been successful in doing so.

To all those who have worked on manufacturing the SRBs and ET: congratulations!  Your achievements in rocket technology have helped the United States reach new heights in space exploration and gain new knowledge and insights from data collected during each Space Shuttle mission that you made possible.  May you carry on our tradition of space exploration with your latest rocket designs that will bring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and researchers to outer space.

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Joie Montoya