A crane on Freedom Star, one of NASA's solid rocket booster retrieval ships, heaves a spent booster nose cap from the from out of the Atlantic Ocean and onto the deck after space shuttle Discovery's final launch.
The shuttle’s two solid rocket booster casings and associated flight hardware are recovered in the Atlantic Ocean after every launch by Liberty Star and Freedom Star. The boosters impact the Atlantic about seven minutes after liftoff and the retrieval ships are stationed about 10 miles from the impact area at the time of splashdown. After the spent segments are processed, they will be transported to Utah, where they will be refurbished and stored, if needed. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky