Let me explain. The term SRB (Solid (fuel) Rocket Booster) usually refers to a solid (fuel) rocket which is attached to something else in order to "boost" it.

But I just read this answer by @dotancohen about the Aries 1-X which seems to be a one-off test of an existing SRB from "Space Shuttle Inventory" used as a stand-alone rocket, in this case with a 2nd stage simulator. According to that article, a guidance system was assembled and used to vector the thrust of the SRB, with roll implemented via thrusters. So it got me thinking, is this really unusual for an SRB? In general are solid rocket boosters ever thrust vectored?

I guess a related question would be - are solid fuel rockets of this or similar size ever thrust vectored?

Now enjoy the video:


It's not uncommon. The space shuttle SRBs had movable nozzles, as do many other SRBs. Some solid rockets such as the Titan III-C boosters or Minuteman II use a secondary liquid propellant injected into the side of the nozzle in order to do thrust vectoring as well.

  • $\begingroup$ There are two good answers here! But the "bonus info" about the injection of liquid propellant into the side of the nozzle is fascinating! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 26 '16 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ Apparently movable vanes in the exhaust is another technique that's been used, but I don't know any current SRBs that use it. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 '16 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ That''s interesting - sort-of half-way between vanes on the outside (only works with some atmosphere), and vectoring thrust by gimbaling the nozzle! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 26 '16 at 4:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's an old solution; the liquid fueled V-2 and Redstone both used jet vanes. $\endgroup$ Apr 26 '16 at 12:08

It's not unusual. The Shuttle SRBs and the Ariane 5 SRBs have thrust vectoring via steerable nozzles.

The Ares 1-X needed extras relative to the Shuttle SRB: roll control of the stack (and guidance) is normally handled by the Shuttle orbiter.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the information! Starting from the ESA link for Ariane 5 SRBs, there's plenty of info available. I hand't realize that SRBs were ignited at the top, not the bottom. I thought they would operate similarly to the small Estes engines for model rocketry! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 26 '16 at 2:11

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