Two space shuttle solid rocket booster casings arrived at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center Aug. 29 after a transcontinental trip from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The inert boosters, each of which is more than 149 feet long and more than 12 feet wide, were hauled overland by a modified tractor-trailer rig.
Now owned by the California Science Center in Los Angeles, they will remain in storage at NASA Dryden until the science center’s planned exhibit hall to house the space shuttle Endeavour is built. The boosters will be mounted alongside Endeavour in a vertical configuration, similar to what they would have been during launch into space.
The largest solid rocket motors ever developed, the four-segment space shuttle solid rocket boosters weighed about 193,000 pounds empty and 1.3 million pounds when loaded with more than 1.1 million pounds of propellant. The boosters were each capable of producing 2,650,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff, and provided the additional thrust needed for the first two minutes after launch to enable the space shuttles to escape the gravitational pull of Earth. Their propellant, composed primarily of atomized aluminum powder fuel and ammonium perchlorate oxidizer bound together with a synthetic rubber compound, was developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate at Edwards Air Force Base.