Motor, Solid Fuel, Project Mercury Retro; also Designated TE-316

Shown here is a retro rocket used to decelerate manned spacecraft in orbit in preparation for re-entry into the earth's atmosphere during NASA's Project Mercury in the 1960s. NASA acquired the engine on contract from the Thiokol Chemical Corporation's Elkton, Maryland production plant. The rocket produced a thrust of 1,000 pounds for ten seconds.

NASA fitted three of these rockets onto the heat shield of a Mercury capsule. Each rocket fired separately on five-second delays to slow the capsule gradually for re-entry. One minute after use, the the retro rocket package jettisoned from the spacecraft to afford unencumbered re-entrry. The rockets either fired automatically through the action of an orbital timing device or manually by the astronaut on board if required.

Transfered from NASA's Johnson Space Center.