We know that the SLS is going to use solid rocket boosters that are decedents of the boosters used on the Space Shuttle. The new version is supposed to be bigger and better, but will NASA be able to recover them to cut down on cost?

Does NASA have any plans to adopt the active recovery systems that SpaceX are working on?

  • $\begingroup$ See How will the SRBs used by the SLS differ from those used by the Shuttle? $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Feb 9, 2016 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ I see the reference to the SRB not having a parachute for recovery, ...but we now live in the era where an ocean splashdown is the only option to recover a rocket. $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2016 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ Remember, the refurbishment costs of the Shuttle's boosters was almost as high as replacing them would have been. $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2016 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @RickestRick I think you may have omitted a "not" from that comment. Although I think there must be a species of gremlin that specifically adds and removes negations in random places online. $\endgroup$
    – Darren
    Mar 22, 2018 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


It can but it won't.

It was decided that the costs of recovery, inspection and refurbishing the boosters plus increased risk of disaster due to unnoticed wear is just not worth it - the boosters will not be recovered for economical, not technical reasons.

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    $\begingroup$ Are there any NASA released documents that confirm this? $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2016 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @RickestRick: nasaspaceflight.com/2012/02/… or ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20120014501.pdf $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Feb 9, 2016 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ Confirmed, I'm sad to say. NASA doc says there is no recovery system for the boosters. $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2016 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ Too low of a flight rate. It was always marginal even for shuttle. $\endgroup$ Feb 9, 2016 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble: Ah, yes. The SRBs of the shuttle suffered less salt-related damage in the direct bath in the ocean than by waiting for refurbishing for the next launch in the salty seaside atmosphere for the next couple months. That would be even worse with more sparse launches. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Feb 10, 2016 at 6:59

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