Booster (rocketry)

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A GEM-40 strap-on booster for a Delta II launch vehicle.

A booster rocket (or engine) is either the first stage of a multi-stage launch vehicle, or else a strap-on rocket used to augment the core launch vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capability. Boosters are generally necessary to launch spacecraft into Earth orbit or beyond. The booster is dropped to fall back to Earth once its fuel is expended, a point known as booster engine cut-off (BECO). The rest of the launch vehicle continues flight with its core or upper stage engines. The booster may be recovered and reused, as in the case of the Space Shuttle.

Strap-on boosters are sometimes used to augment the payload or range capability of jet aircraft (usually military).

Drop-away engines[edit]

The SM-65 Atlas rocket used three engines, one of which was fixed to the fuel tank, and two of which were mounted on a skirt which dropped away at BECO. This was used as an Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM); to launch the manned Project Mercury capsule into orbit; and as the first stage of the Atlas-Agena and Atlas-Centaur launch vehicles.[citation needed]

Strap-on boosters[edit]

The Titan III, used by the United States Air Force as an unmanned heavy-lift vehicle,was developed from the Titan II launch vehicle by adding a pair of strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRB). It was also planned to be used for the Manned Orbital Laboratory program, which was cancelled in 1969.

NASA's Space Shuttle was the first manned vehicle to use solid-fueled boosters as strap-ons. The solid boosters consisted of stacked segments, and were recovered and reused multiple times.

Recoverable boosters[edit]

The booster casings for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster were recovered and refurbished for reuse from 1981–2011 as part of the Space Shuttle program.

In a new development program initiated in 2011, SpaceX is attempting to recover and bring back for low-cost and rapid reuse a recoverable booster.[1] The program, if successful, is intended to reduce launch prices significantly, opening new markets for the use of space.[2] A multi-year, multi-element test program is now underway.[3]

Use in aviation[edit]

Rocket boosters used on aircraft are known as Jet-Assisted TakeOff (JATO) rockets.

Various missiles also use solid rocket boosters. Examples are;

Other uses[edit]

Another use of the term "booster" in spaceflight is the Booster Systems Engineer, whose call sign is Booster. This is a support position at NASA's Mission Control Center.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "SpaceX chief details reusable rocket". Washington Post. September 30, 2011. "Both of the rocket's stages would return to the launch site and touch down vertically, under rocket power, on landing gear after delivering a spacecraft to orbit. " 
  2. ^ Belfiore, Michael (2014-03-13). "SpaceX Set to Launch the World’s First Reusable Booster". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2014-03-14. "SpaceX is counting on lower launch costs to increase demand for launch services." 
  3. ^ Foust, Jeff (2014-03-24). "Reusability and other issues facing the launch industry". The Space Review 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  4. ^ Navias, Rob. "FLIGHT CONTROL OF STS-69". Johnson Space Center. Archived from the original on 18 March 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2013. "Booster Systems Engineer (BOOSTER) Monitors main engine and solid rocket booster performance during ascent phase"