Table 1-39. Chronology of Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster Development.





Jan. 31, 1969

NASA awarded integral launch and reentry vehicle (ILRV) study contract to Lockheed Missile & Space Company (clustered or modular reusable flyback stages), North American Rockwell Corporation (expendable tank configurations), General Dynamics Corporation (expendable tank concept and modularized solid propulsion stages), and McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company ("triamese" configurations and reusable flyback stages). Studies were to be concluded in September. In June, however, these "phase A" studies were extended and redirected at NASA's request toward a more fully reusable system.

Nov. 1969

NASA received phase A ILRV studies from its four contractors and an in-house- funded report from Martin Marietta Corporation.

Dec. 10, 1969

A joint NASA-Department of Defense Space Shuttle Task Group submitted a "Summary Report of Recoverable versus Expendable Booster Space Shuttle Studies," in which the group recommended a fully reusable system.

Feb. 18, 1970

NASA issued a request for proposals for phase B definition studies of a fully reusable Shuttle system (proposals due March 30).

May 9, 1970

NASA awarded a North American Rockwell-General Dynamics team an 11-month contract (phase B) to define more fully their Shuttle concept. NASA also selected McDonnell Douglas-Martin Marietta to produce a competitive design.

June 15, 1970

NASA chose four firms to conduct 11-month feasibility studies on alternative Shuttle designs: Grumman Aerospace Corp.-Boeing Company (stage-and-a-half Shuttle with expendable propulsion tanks, reusable orbiter with expendable booster, reusable booster with solid propulsion auxiliary boosters), Lockheed (expendable tank orbiter), and Chrysler Corp. (single-stage reusable orbiter).

Aug. 26, 1970

NASA announced that Convair Div., General Dynamics, would conduct an eight- month design study for a high-energy upper stage that could be used as an expend-able upper stage with Shuttle.

Sept. 28, 1970

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center chose McDonnell Douglas to conduct a study of an expendable second stage for a reusable Shuttle booster.

Nov. 19, 1970

Marshall awarded a one-year modification to its Shuttle study contract with McDonnell Douglas; the contractor would also be responsible for testing the structural components of its proposed Shuttle booster.

June 10, 1971

Marshall was officially assigned the role of manager of the Shuttle main engine and booster.

June 16, 1971

NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher indicated that the agency may take a "phased approach" to Shuttle development. Hardware for the orbiter would be developed first, which could be used with an expendable booster. Development of a reusable booster would follow.

July 1, 1971

Phase B definition contracts with North American Rockwell-General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas-Martin Marietta, and study contracts with Grumman-Boeing and Lockheed were extended through October to consider the phased approach to Shuttle design and the use of existing liquid or solid propulsion boosters as interim Shuttle launch vehicles.

Summer 1971

Martin Marietta engineers concluded that the Titan launch vehicle could be used as an interim expendable booster for Shuttle.

Sept . 1971

Grumman-Boeing officials suggested that Saturn IC could serve as an interim Shuttle booster and that a winged Saturn reusable booster was feasible.

Oct. 7, 1971

Studies being conducted by North American Rockwell-General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas-Martin Marietta, Grumman-Boeing, and Lockheed were extended again to examine ballistic recoverable boosters.

Dec. 6, 1971

NASA awarded contracts for feasibility studies of pressure-fed engines for a water- recoverable Shuttle booster to TRW, Inc., and Aerojet-General Corporation.

Jan. 27, 1972

Marshall chose Aerojet-General, Lockheed Propulsion Company, Thiokol Chemical Company, and United Technology Center to study the use of 120-inch and 156-inch solid motors as part of the Shuttle booster package.

March 15, 1972

For economic reasons, NASA Headquarters officials chose the solid booster con-figuration for Shuttle over the development of a new liquid fueled system. Two 156-inch-diameter, 140-foot-tall solid rocket boosters (SRBs) paired with the orbiter's liquid fueled main engines would boost the Shuttle to orbit. At an altitude of 1.24 kilometers, the boosters would be jettisoned, and their descent to the Atlantic slowed by parachutes. The two boosters would be recovered from the ocean and refurbished for another mission. The two solid boosters would be mounted on either side of a larger external propulsion tank that would feed the orbiter's main engines. The orbiter would be mounted to the tank (see fig. 1-5).

June 21, 1972

Six firms submitted proposals to Marshall for a parachute system for the Shuttle solid boosters.

Sept. 7-8, 1972

NASA held a review at Marshall to advise industry on its plans for Shuttle's external propulsion tank and solid rocket boosters.

Dec. 12-13, 1972

A second review session was held at Marshall for 350 industry and government representatives interested in the external tank and SRB. A similar meeting took place on March 6, 1973.

Feb. 10- March 10, 1973

Water impact and towing tests of a Shuttle SRB-type motor were conducted by the U.S. Navy at Long Beach, California, for Marshall.

July 16, 1973

Marshall issued a request for proposals for Shuttle solid rocket motor development to Aerojet-General Solid Propulsion Company, Lockheed, Thiokol, and United Technology Center (proposals due Aug. 27.).

Nov. 1973

Marshall conducted drop tests of a solid rocket motor scale model and a three- parachute recovery system.

Nov. 20, 1973

NASA selected Thiokol to design, develop, and test the Shuttle SRB. This six-year contract was scheduled to run through September 1979.

Jan. 1974

Lockheed protested to the General Accounting Office (GAO) NASA's selection of Thiokol as designer of the SRB. Because of the protest, NASA issued Thiokol a 90-day study contract on February 13 so the firm could continue its work while GAO studied the situation. The study contract was extended again on May 20 for 45 days.

June 1974

United Technology Center submitted an unsolicited proposal to be a backup contractor to Thiokol in the solid rocket motor program.

June 26, 1974

A letter contract was awarded to Thiokol by Marshall for the development of the SRB. GAO had completed its investigation of the agency's procedures in evaluating the SRB proposals and on June 24 recommended that NASA decide whether or not the selection of Thiokol should be reconsidered.

May 15, 1975

NASA issued Thiokol a contract for solid rocket motor design, development, testing, and engineering for the period July 26, 1974 through June 30, 1980.

August 7, 1975

Marshall chose the Chemical Systems Division, United Technology Corporation, to supply the SRB separation motors. Each booster would require eight separation motors.

Aug. 22, 1975

Marshall chose McDonnell Douglas to procure SRB structures (aft skirts, rings, struts, frustrums, nose caps).

Nov. 1975

NASA officials decided to use the vehicle assembly building at launch complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center to assemble the SRBs.

Jan. 8, 1976

Marshall issued a request for proposals for an SRB decelerator (parachute) subsystem. The 36.5-meter-diameter chutes would be tested at Marshall and at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.

May 28, 1976

Martin Marietta was chosen by Marshall to produce the SRB decelerator subsystem. Pioneer Parachute Company would serve as a subcontractor to Martin Marietta.

Sept. -Oct. 1976

Engineers at Marshall tested the thrust vector control system for the SRB.

Dec. 21, 1976

Marshall selected United Space Boosters, Incorporated, as the assembly contractor for the SRB.

June 1977

The SRB recovery system was tested at the National Parachute Test Range, El Centro, California. One drogue and three main chutes made up the system.

July 18, 1977

The Shuttle solid rocket motor was test fired for the first time (DM-I). In two minutes, the motor produced more than 12 million newtons thrust.

Jan. 19, 1978

The Shuttle booster solid rocket motor was fired successfully a second time (DM-2).

April 1978

The first full-design-limit tests of the SRB recovery system were conducted at the National Parachute Test Range. Further tests were held in July.

Sept. 12, 1978

The Shuttle SRB parachute drop test program was completed.

Oct. 19, 1978

The Shuttle solid rocket motor was successfully fired a third time (DM-3).

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