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NASA

Proposed Space Shuttle Improvements
News story originally written on June 23, 1997

NASA is thinking of making a major change to the space shuttle...What is this change?

First-stage boosters that fly back to the launch site unpiloted

Two companies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing Company, will research these new boosters. They will build a model of the new booster that can be tested.

The current solid rocket boosters (SRB's) are the white boosters attached to the side of the orange external tank. The SRB's burn out about two minutes after liftoff and are cast off into the ocean. NASA retrieves the boosters out of the ocean and fixes them for upcoming shuttle missions.

The new boosters after separating from the Shuttle would glide for nine minutes. Jet engines would then start and the SRB's would return to Kennedy Space Center, FL unpiloted. The boosters would not look much different than currrent boosters.

Other shuttle parts would remain unchanged if the new SRB's were added.

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