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(io9)   Early design specs show the space shuttle could have been much cooler than it turned out   (io9.com) divider line 26
    More: Interesting, space shuttles, external tank, spacecraft design, McDonnell Douglas, chronologies, Grumman, NASA  
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4715 clicks; posted to Geek » on 01 Apr 2014 at 4:13 PM (37 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



26 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-04-01 02:45:36 PM  
You can thank Congress for the alterations. As a kid i watch the animation of the shuttle NASA wanted. With it we could have gone to much higher orbits and preformed oh so much more but Congress (mostly Democrat legislators, sadly) would not approve the cost. The compromise,inferior and deadly shuttle we got was the result.
 
2014-04-01 03:00:58 PM  

Delawheredad: You can thank Congress for the alterations. As a kid i watch the animation of the shuttle NASA wanted. With it we could have gone to much higher orbits and preformed oh so much more but Congress (mostly Democrat legislators, sadly) would not approve the cost. The compromise,inferior and deadly shuttle we got was the result.


Were there not also changes forced on the Nasa design team to allow for certain military payloads / mission parameters?  I might be remembering that wrong but I think I read that at some point.
 
2014-04-01 03:06:28 PM  
Nogrhi The original shuttle orbiter had a  MUCH larger payload bay. The orbiter as first designed would have been better suited to military missions than the resultant shuttle was. NASA had to increase payload to make it barely suitable for military use.
 
2014-04-01 03:08:48 PM  

Nogrhi: Delawheredad: You can thank Congress for the alterations. As a kid i watch the animation of the shuttle NASA wanted. With it we could have gone to much higher orbits and preformed oh so much more but Congress (mostly Democrat legislators, sadly) would not approve the cost. The compromise,inferior and deadly shuttle we got was the result.

Were there not also changes forced on the Nasa design team to allow for certain military payloads / mission parameters?  I might be remembering that wrong but I think I read that at some point.


I believe there were some requirements that the DoD asked for to be incorporated. I think there were something like 10 flights for DoD for classified stuff.
 
2014-04-01 04:11:23 PM  

Nogrhi: Delawheredad: You can thank Congress for the alterations. As a kid i watch the animation of the shuttle NASA wanted. With it we could have gone to much higher orbits and preformed oh so much more but Congress (mostly Democrat legislators, sadly) would not approve the cost. The compromise,inferior and deadly shuttle we got was the result.

Were there not also changes forced on the Nasa design team to allow for certain military payloads / mission parameters?  I might be remembering that wrong but I think I read that at some point.


"A USAF requirement was a large cross-range to allow recovery of the orbiter at Vandenberg AFB from polar orbits in the case of abort-once-around scenarios."
Link
 
2014-04-01 04:26:45 PM  
I like how the chrome shuttle in that photo looks like the sexy offspring of a P51 and a 1940's idea of a spaceship.
 
2014-04-01 04:28:18 PM  

MonstarMike: I think there were something like 10 flights for DoD for classified stuff.


It was originally going to be *a lot* more. They were planning to launch shuttles occasionally from Vandenberg with classified payloads on polar orbits, and at one point were even planning a DoD-specific orbiter. Then again, the idea was that each orbiter could launch every two weeks for $50MM a pop or something ridiculous like that.
 
2014-04-01 04:29:46 PM  
Several of those alternate designs would have been substantially safer, especially in the particular circumstances which doomed Challenger and Columbia.
 
2014-04-01 04:47:11 PM  
img.fark.net

Why are you looking at me like that?
 
2014-04-01 04:56:50 PM  

dukeblue219: MonstarMike: I think there were something like 10 flights for DoD for classified stuff.

It was originally going to be *a lot* more. They were planning to launch shuttles occasionally from Vandenberg with classified payloads on polar orbits, and at one point were even planning a DoD-specific orbiter. Then again, the idea was that each orbiter could launch every two weeks for $50MM a pop or something ridiculous like that.


Yeah, they build a whole Shuttle launch pad at Vandenberg, only to mothball it when the Challenger went boom.

i.space.com
 
2014-04-01 05:09:18 PM  

Mad_Radhu: dukeblue219: MonstarMike: I think there were something like 10 flights for DoD for classified stuff.

It was originally going to be *a lot* more. They were planning to launch shuttles occasionally from Vandenberg with classified payloads on polar orbits, and at one point were even planning a DoD-specific orbiter. Then again, the idea was that each orbiter could launch every two weeks for $50MM a pop or something ridiculous like that.

Yeah, they build a whole Shuttle launch pad at Vandenberg, only to mothball it when the Challenger went boom.

[i.space.com image 575x390]


Yeah, they finished it but never used it. Wiki says the first flight from Vandenberg's SLC-6 was scheduled for October 1986.

Then the USAF realized there really wasn't anything they wanted the Shuttle to do they couldn't do through NASA's Shuttles or traditional rockets. When they realized the true costs of a Shuttle launch would never be anywhere close to what was promised they used Challenger as a convenient excuse to bail.
 
2014-04-01 06:56:50 PM  
Great history on the Shuttle and it's baked in fail
http://idlewords.com/2005/08/a_rocket_to_nowhere.htm
 
2014-04-01 07:04:34 PM  
I work at Vandenberg and I'm getting a kick....
(seriously I do work here)

I wanted to see a shuttle design with huge gun turrets.
Still no luck.
 
2014-04-01 08:07:40 PM  

Contrabulous Flabtraption: Great history on the Shuttle and it's baked in fail
http://idlewords.com/2005/08/a_rocket_to_nowhere.htm


A very interesting read. I've still not worked out the logic in making the shuttle incapable of automatic, unmanned, operation. The crew demanded the gear down switch be not connected to the autopilot? Why? Were they worried it might deploy accidentally?
 
2014-04-01 08:35:17 PM  

Contrabulous Flabtraption: Great history on the Shuttle and it's baked in fail
http://idlewords.com/2005/08/a_rocket_to_nowhere.htm


The Shuttle was an amazing piece of design with impressive capabilities, all wrapped into something that just wasn't a very good idea. The few things it could do that nothing else could weren't done all that often and likely could have been done in other ways anyway.

That the replacement for the Shuttle isn't another shuttle ought to be a strong indication that it was something of a developmental dead end. The Air Force unmanned craft is the closest thing there is to a Shuttle descendant and humans won't ever ride on it.
 
2014-04-01 09:13:14 PM  
The shuttle was touted as being a real cost saver and money maker beuczase it would launch commercial satellites.

Then:

Most commercial satellites need to get to 22,000 miles up geosynchronous orbit.
The shuttle was going to be able to do that
Except cost
Except reasons
Maybe by carrying a booster in the cargo bay
So not at all, huh?
Well it can launch the Hubble,
It can service the Hubble.
But HEY!  We'll build an International Space station!
What do we need the shuttle for?  To fly the ISS!
What do we need the ISS for?
As a reason for flying the shuttle!

Ohhh Bad things.  Mission loss rate exceeds 1%.

We have to make going to space as safe as flying in an airliner...
Maybe not no more going the Hubble because we don't want to risk going that high, either.

Ummm...so it turned out that the Russians can fly to the ISS with old throwaway 1970s metal cans that land on land cheaper than we can even prepare a shuttle mission....

Thus why Burt Rutan calls it Nay-Say
 
2014-04-01 09:43:17 PM  
"Cool" doesn't always mean "flies well".
 
2014-04-01 10:18:34 PM  
And both shuttle losses were events that they were specifically warned about but NASA middle managers did nothing.Morton Thiakol refused to clear the launch because the weather was outside the design limits of the O rings, but NASA pressured them to change their minds. And engineers spotted the foam hitting the leading edge but a NASA manager refused to allow any inspection that could have revealed the damage.

/Of course there's probably not much they could have done anyway. I don't think they could have launched another shuttle in time to rescue them.
 
2014-04-01 10:59:52 PM  
I'm still dyna soar about it
 
2014-04-02 12:53:13 AM  

Flint Ironstag: /Of course there's probably not much they could have done anyway. I don't think they could have launched another shuttle in time to rescue them.


You're probably right but there was surely a better way for them to die or something they could try to increase their odds of surviving even if only a little bit. If nothing else, a re-entry that put less lives at risk on the ground. Imagine what would have happened to the shuttle program had the debris taken out an elementary school or a large chunk of downtown Dallas. They got lucky that no one on the ground was injured from the debris.
 
2014-04-02 06:38:56 AM  

Flint Ironstag: Contrabulous Flabtraption: Great history on the Shuttle and it's baked in fail
http://idlewords.com/2005/08/a_rocket_to_nowhere.htm

A very interesting read. I've still not worked out the logic in making the shuttle incapable of automatic, unmanned, operation. The crew demanded the gear down switch be not connected to the autopilot? Why? Were they worried it might deploy accidentally?


If the shuttle can do its job automatically, there's no need for astronauts. If you have the best job in the world, you want that job to continue existing. End of story.
 
2014-04-02 08:05:52 AM  
Shuttle was the best example of what politicians and committees are good for.
 
2014-04-02 09:08:54 AM  
When I was 8 I asked the congresscritter why he broke the space program.  He said I was too young to understand.  I asked him if he had an answer decades later when he was a Senator.
 
2014-04-02 09:25:56 AM  

Flint Ironstag: And both shuttle losses were events that they were specifically warned about but NASA middle managers did nothing.Morton Thiakol refused to clear the launch because the weather was outside the design limits of the O rings, but NASA pressured them to change their minds. And engineers spotted the foam hitting the leading edge but a NASA manager refused to allow any inspection that could have revealed the damage.

/Of course there's probably not much they could have done anyway. I don't think they could have launched another shuttle in time to rescue them.


EngineerAU: Flint Ironstag: /Of course there's probably not much they could have done anyway. I don't think they could have launched another shuttle in time to rescue them.

You're probably right but there was surely a better way for them to die or something they could try to increase their odds of surviving even if only a little bit. If nothing else, a re-entry that put less lives at risk on the ground. Imagine what would have happened to the shuttle program had the debris taken out an elementary school or a large chunk of downtown Dallas. They got lucky that no one on the ground was injured from the debris.


http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/02/the-audacious-rescue-plan-tha t- might-have-saved-space-shuttle-columbia/

There has been after-the-fact reflection on what might have been done for the crew of Columbia had staff immediately realized and focused on the situation.

/TLDR: It would have been a tour-de-force of rushing inspection requirements to launch quickly and the mission would have been incredibly dangerous (which most astronauts tend to accept as normal).
 
2014-04-02 11:09:51 AM  

Contrabulous Flabtraption: Great history on the Shuttle and it's baked in fail
http://idlewords.com/2005/08/a_rocket_to_nowhere.htm


Thank you so much!

"Future archaeologists trying to understand what the Shuttle was for are going to have a mess on their hands "

"Clearly this primitive space plane must have been a sacred artifact, used in religious rituals to deliver sacrifice to a sky god. "

from the linked article
 
2014-04-02 02:11:00 PM  
The shuttle was useless without at least one turbolaser battery.
 
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