Solid rocket boosters are arguably the most important component of a spacecraft. These huge tanks of fuel produce immense force for lift-off and allow a spacecraft to escape the Earth’s gravity. Most spacecraft rely on a pair of rocket boosters to propel them skywards.
Given their important role, America’s national space agency, NASA, thoroughly tests its boosters before using them in a mission. Recently, the organization carried out extensive tests in the build-up to the Artemis lunar mission. These checks verified the feasibility of the boosters to be used in NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) — successor to the STS, which involved a space shuttle.
Undoubtedly, rocket boosters make for a captivating sight at the time of launch. These fire-shooting tanks are no less interesting to watch during the tests either. Don’t believe it? See it for yourself in the video below, which shows how NASA tested its new five segment rocket boosters.
SLS solid rocket boosters: Enough power for reaching Mars
With the SLS’s five segment solid rocket boosters, NASA has leveraged its decades-worth of space travel experience with the space shuttle. According to its website, the new boosters are way ahead of other boosters NASA has built before. It delivers an unprecedented amount of power to the SLS, which would enable the transport to carry astronauts as well as heavy payloads to distant planets such as Mars.
At first, NASA would put these boosters to use for taking the Artemis to the moon. Although this mission was scheduled for launch in the August-September window, it has now been pushed back further, to October, due to technical snags.
Coming to the specs, the new boosters stand nearly 17-stories tall (53.9m or 177ft). Moreover, they weigh a combined 1.45 million kilograms (3.2 million pounds), which is close to the weight of 10 blue whales. Impressively, each booster burns propellant fuel at a rate of 6 tons per second. This helps the pair produce a combined thrust that is more than that of 28 commercial airplanes.
Heading upwards is only one-half of a rocket booster’s journey. The other half includes falling down into an ocean from where NASA recovers it for reuse in the future. If you’re interested in knowing more, check out our article on rocket booster recovery.