The Amazing Engineering Behind Solid Rocket Boosters

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The solid rocket motors on the space shuttle accounted for the majority of the launch mass and launch thrust. They’re the most powerful rocket thrusters ever flown, at least until the 5 segment versions take flight with SLS in the next year or so.
I’ve often described solid rocket motors as being relatively simple compared to the complex plumbing, pumps and turbines of liquid rocket motors. However there’s still a huge amount of critical engineering and science that goes into these boosters.
The design of the boosters were also partly responsible for the accident that destroyed Challenger during launch.

  1. molly_disulfide

    i like being surprised when you upload

  2. Mix of all cz

    Can you make a video about Delta 2 boosters?

  3. W&K Bowser

    Nice to see in the diagram that Tang has more uses in space then just for drinking by astronauts. ;)

  4. Philip Collier

    I sure enjoyed that peek into the SRB systems. Almost like a snippet of aviation ground school, but it is aerospace.

  5. gravy boat

    A big firework then 😀

  6. Toufique Imam Chowdhury

    Wanted this video for a long time

  7. Ali McMellon

    Scott please do a video on design and construction of pressure vessels

  8. Astronomy 101

    0 dislikes :) so far! 971 likes!

  9. Shadow747

    Wow i didnt know lift off was so slow. Im so surprised at how stable it is taking off

  10. Alexandru Gheorghe

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Andre Gulbis

    Doesn’t that last launch you show, with the solid booster, re-contact on S1 sep? Or is that some other launch?

  12. NeDeS

    Thanks, Scott.

  13. Denis McNurney

    A great, clear explanation of how Challenger met its doom.

  14. Nikos Papageorgiou

    Great video Scott!

  15. S R

    What a fantastic channel. Explains things I never understood before. Thank you.

  16. Mike

    I wonder if a modern take on Sea Dragon could be achieved with SRBs? Big and dumb and reusable. Just a beast to get maximum mass into LEO.

  17. MaxRockatansky

    I would love to see more on how Northrop Grumman has evolved the booster design into the composite-casing SRBs for the OmegA and SLS block 2

  18. skuzlebut82

    Great video, Scott!

  19. Rick Shaw

    Another brilliant video. Thanks Scott

  20. storminmormin14

    I’ve actually been to a test fire of omega at promontory point. Planned to go to SLS before COVID.

  21. skytreker

    Add moar boosters!🚀

  22. Doug Manatt

    Yeah, I think they also use these on ICBMs — original design requirements I think came from the nuclear missile mission.

  23. Sean T

    The dynamic range of those first few slow mo shows is incredible..

  24. Overwatch

    I wonder if we are going to see more Hybrid Solid/Liquid engines, or if they are a dead end.

  25. Axonteer

    More Boosters are more better, my lessons learned from ksp ^^

  26. Bill Kerr

    And of course my favorite SRB test was the live streamed with much ado Northrup Grumman OmegA test. The gimbaled nozzle blew apart explosively at the end of the burn leading to my favorite spaceflight/rocket science phenomenon: The failure not covered in the talking head’s play-by-play script.
    While ISRO holds the all time title for this type of performance (a sleepy NASA text reader during the aborted Soyuz launch hold a distant secone) it stunned me that NG didn’t have announcers prepped for some level of contingency. It was Larry David awkward.

  27. Tom Morningstar

    Another incredibly informative video. Kudos!

  28. databang

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  29. MrMelgibstein

    Amazing engineering until the booster rocket bust an o-ring, goes off like a blow torch and slams into the external tank,amazing alright.

  30. Kerstin

    Great explanation of the O-rings

  31. William Kane

    Great explanation…….OK, I finally subscribed!

  32. Rich Waight

    Super interesting! Thanks for posting

  33. Australian Offroad Academ

    Great video, well explained. Thank you

  34. b00ce

    Neat! The SRB nozzles use the same style of elastomeric bearings as some helicopter rotor systems.

  35. Torey Weaver

    I love you and your videos, scott! Thank you so very much!!!!

  36. htomerif

    aaaaaghh.. you tricked me into having to watch the Challenger accident again.

  37. Xenolay3021

    I live about 2 hours from the facility that builds these down in promontory utah

  38. Shadow747

    4:15 is that flammable? Id someone dropped a match or something in there?

  39. Birthday Songs

    A new Scott Manley video almost every other day, what a time to be alive!

  40. Mrsournotes

    Very informative Scott. Good stuff! Thank you.

  41. Gordon Marshall

    Which rockets are “engines” and which are “motors”?
    It matters between electric and fuel powered cars

  42. Shane Hixson

    Whenever I see a booster or rocket tested horizontally it makes me nervous that it is going to throw off the rotation of the Earth…

  43. Mega Gaming

    I’m not even joking, I just looked up how solid rocket boosters worked today… welp, I’m still watching the vid

  44. ScienceToday

    Your videos are great, you inspired me to start my own YouTube channel. Thanks for the inspiration🙏

  45. S. P. W.

    Great stuff Scot. Learned some stuff I never knew before…

  46. martialme84

    06:09 Like a hand grenade.
    You arm a gigantic, 600 ton, solid rocket booster like a frickin hand grenade?!?
    Humans are awesome.

  47. Phil Dem

    Good defense ! I appeciate the effective explanation.👏

  48. Whit Hull

    I’ve literally been thinking about solid rocket motors the past few days, specifically the fact that they’re basically fireworks.

  49. Christian Woodland

    There research you do for these videos is great! Thank you so very much for what you do. :)

  50. snatis1

    Scott cheers for the great explanation! I know it was a really complicated process of building a rocket, but had no idea how much complicated it was actually. Knowing this makes sense why there is no mass production and why it’s so expensive!

  51. Pab Key

    Good luck getting out of the firmament 👍🏼 lol

  52. Andrew Norman

    Great video Scott! Very interesting detail about the safety pin on the SRBs. I always knew that, in real life, when NASA let groups of precocious school kids sit in the orbiter during full-up SSME hot-tests it wasn’t ACTUALLY possible for the SRBs to light, no matter how clever the anthropomorphic robot…I just wasn’t sure about the specific engineering solution. Now I know!

  53. ARRO Astronomical Researc

    What I find interesting is that many composite commercial model rocket motors use the same APCP propellant as the Space Shuttle SRBs

  54. Cornelius crewe

    Excellent rundown of the internal workings of the SRB’s, thank you!

  55. VaTreeGuy

    Great vid Scott! I definitely have a lot more respect for the SRB’s now!

  56. Demon orb

    Very interesting I learned some new facts about srb.
    This is what we need on TV real information on awesome subjects.

  57. nitramyar

    This a great explanation, Scott, especially of the O-ring! Thank you.

  58. Norman Knight

    15:47 OK…I’m off to the shops , wish me luck.

  59. Derry Chai

    I’m always curious how rockets first tip over when launching off slowly

  60. Dominic Bendinelli

    Solid Rocket Boosters make up a huge portion of SLS thrust at liftoff

  61. Chuck Kimber

    This may be the only channel to ever give SRB’s some love. I’ve heard Thiokol invented the modern car airbag based partly on the booster ignitor. SRB’s have been saving millions of lives ever since! ;)

  62. Thel Qualomee

    10:15 you know what they say

    Add more struts!

  63. guintube

    Another part of each booster’s propellant was about 18,500 pounds of Dow Chemical’s DER 331 epoxy resin. It was used as a binder.

  64. Aubrey Freeman

    Never knew that about the wind shear on challenger’s last flight.

  65. Jason Murphy

    Damn that safety pin means the move Space Camp couldn’t have happened.

  66. Jan Korenberg

    You just clicked on a Scott Manley be prepared to learn something new.

  67. mjproebstle

    hello. another awesome vid, you just boosted my day…thx!

  68. eliya sne

    Your content is high quality, i really enjoy watching it!
    Yo are one of the reasons i love rocket science.

  69. Richard Kirka

    Amazing details, many of which I never even dreamed of. I didn’t know that the Columbia SRB probably sealed a first joint leak before unprecedented max-Q beat the hell out of a weakened seal.

    Is the behind-the-scenes of the EPA in both shuttle disasters a proper topic for a future program? Or is this a case of “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” that must remain unspoken for another 30-50 years? I believe that federal agencies, no matter how low-profile they operate, deserve their fair share of the glory in situations like this.

  70. 5Andysalive

    8:10 this looks just amazing.


    “20 seconds”

  72. Geoff Turner

    Just watched the testing of the latest SRBs in person. Absolutely amazing.

  73. Shadow747

    14:10 i thought it was the camera that was moving lmao

  74. Tyler Walter

    This is awesome I was literally just wondering about this earlier today! You space channels must read my mind 😂 keep up the amazing job Scott!, and fly safe!

  75. Ian Colquhoun

    I was today years old when I learned the SRBs are lit from the top.

  76. Whole Nuts And Donuts

    SRBs are crazy beasts!! :)

  77. Youtube Vanced

    Why do we bother abbreviating MAX Q?
    I’ve literally never heard anyone say it without following it with an explanation of maximum dynamic pressure.

  78. Gideon Miles

    6:00 “remove pin before flight?”

  79. ADTR513

    Just finished the Netflix series, Scott! Excited to see what you have to say!

  80. Mozartenhimer

    Thank you for not premiering this!

  81. Little Star

    * mostly amazing when warm enough.

  82. Joseph D

    One of my engineering goals is to one day work on these big dumb pieces of awesomeness

  83. InventorZahran

    6:16 *Seperatrons

  84. Patrick's Music

    “Will continue to do so for the SLS”
    Me: If we get it to fly :(

  85. Spartan J

    ah just when I was about to go to sleep, thanks scottt

    sleep safe

  86. I Said

    Wow thank you for answering the o-ring fix for challenger. The netflix doco only states the issue was the o-ring but didn’t mention how they fixed it.

  87. Rancid Beef

    Thing I learned today thanks to this video: that Richard Feynman was on the Challenger accident commission. Of course, didn’t know who he was back then…

  88. Jayson Spain

    Hey Scott, what was the documentary footage of the srb’s from? I would love to watch it! Another amazing vid as always. Fly safe.

  89. Ryan Linden

    Than you Scott, this is actually a very, very well done video. I researched the crap out of this and am so happy you put together what I thought of. :)


    I truly appreciate the beauty of the engineering films from this era!

  91. Nathaniel Kencke

    Finally, I get to learn about the space shuttle booster TVC! I’ve been wondering about it for a long time.

  92. kahlzun

    It’s a continuing explosion that lifts 600T of weight for 2 minutes straight. That’s definitely not something that you can do without a lot of science

  93. craftycrumbs

    One time my friends and I were making solid rocket fuel in the backyard using a coffee grinder.. the sparks in the grinder ignited the fuel quite explosively!

  94. unistrut

    When I was at Space Camp back in the day one of us asked what would happen if the explosive bolts didn’t fire. “They get torn off and the SRB leaves anyway.”

  95. Lucy Tycho

    This is one of your best videos yet. I like it when you just talk about something you know, but 100% footage/diagrams really helps with the explanations, and a lot of the videos you used were just gorgeous to look at too

  96. Samuel Armstrong

    idk man seems kinda easy to build multi-ton boosters for rocket science.

  97. zoperxplex

    More than twice as powerful as the most powerful liquid fuel rocket engines.

  98. jfischer507

    “backbone of the shuttle” more like the glutes and quads

  99. Jonathan Adami

    “let’s talk about the joints” I agree, let’s!

  100. Torjus HT

    I wish documentaries were like this. Not the over dramatic dumbed down version we usually see. This is great, learned a lot of stuff I’ve never heard about anywhere else. Fascinating stuff

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