The Ariane 5 uses two solid rocket boosters (SRBs), which can be recovered by parachute if desired. However, unlike (for instance) the space shuttle SRBs, Ariane 5 SRBs are only occasionally recovered, and only when post-flight analysis is necessary due to some sort of anomaly during launch; even when recovered, Ariane 5 boosters are not reused.

Why aren't the Ariane 5 boosters routinely recovered and reused?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Usually when boosters aren't reused it's the same reason you didn't get your car fixed after it got totaled. It just isn't worth fixing all the minor damages and scratches, and even if it could drive again is it really worth the effort when alternatives are available? Nope. Replacement car through insurance - it's new to boot! Fancier, sleeker, more R&D on your 6-disk CD changers to replace that 8-track, etc... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 11:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn not really a good analogy. Cars get totalled because they aren't designed to be repaired beyond small damages and expected wear. Some of the reasons apply to rockets as well (making it more repairable would make it more expensive, heavy, and/or weaker), but the “fancier new car” point doesn't make sense for rockets. It's more like, you buy a brand-new car and at the end of the first drive bring it to a stop by crashing into a wall rather than using the brakes. If cars actually were supposed to be used this way, they'd also be designed so the damage is repairable. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2023 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


The shuttle SRBs weren't really cost-effective to reuse. The nozzles and nozzle boots were replaced completely, as were many other components; the segment casings were deformed by the force of splashdown, and had to be reshaped. Designing the booster for reuse, and inspecting each rebuilt booster thoroughly to be assured that it was safe to use — particularly after the Challenger accident — was likely more expensive in the long run than using a simpler, cheaper, disposable design.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.