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The Space Shuttle relied on a pair of SRBs, and fuel supplement in the External Tank for it's launch.

Assuming Payload, Service parts/consumables, Crews, SRBs, and ET were ready -

  • How long did it take, at a minimum, to prep a shuttle for launch after it landed?
  • Were the shuttles capable of back-to-back missions?
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  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean "One shuttle in orbit, another being prepared on the ground"? $\endgroup$ – SF. Oct 21 '13 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ @SF. No; I meant re-launch after landing subject to the caveats mentioned apropos crew, essential servicing, SRB et.c $\endgroup$ – Everyone Oct 22 '13 at 2:39
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It is hard to say what might be possible, but we can certainly look at what was actually done. The fastest turnaround time in the Program's history was 54 days by Atlantis in 1985. I suspect that would not be possible with some of the new procedures put into place post-Challenger.

It seems Columbia did it the fastest post-Challenger: 88 days. I believe SSME inspection is the long-pole in this process. Even if you just replace the SSMEs, you still have a lot to do.

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Supplemental answer to this un-addressed part of the question "Were the shuttles capable of back-to-back missions?"

It happened throughout the program. More frequently early on as orbiters were introduced into the fleet and others went in for maintenance.

  • The first five flights were back-to-back missions of Columbia (OV-102).
  • The next three flights were back-to-back missions of Challenger (OV-099).
  • The 10th and 11th flights were back-to-back missions of Challenger.
  • The 14th, 15th, and 16th flights were back-to-back missions of Discovery (OV-103).
  • The 35th and 36th flights were back-to-back missions of Discovery.
  • The 91st and 92nd flights were back-to-back missions of Discovery.
  • The 98th and 99th flights were back-to-back missions of Atlantis (OV-104).
  • The 114th and 115th flights were back-to-back missions of Discovery.
  • Endeavour (OV-105) never flew back-to-back missions.
  • The shortest interval on a back-to-back mission was 63 days, between mission 10 (STS-41B) and mission 11 (STS-41C), using Challenger.
  • The longest interval on a back-to-back mission was almost a year, during the recovery from the STS-107 accident. These (STS-114 and STS-121, both flown by Discovery) were the last back-to-back missions in the program.
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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the correction to whoever supplied it! Much appreciated. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 17 '18 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ But the Shuttle Atlantis had a shorter time between two starts, 55 days between 10.03.85 and 11.27.85. This was not a back to back mission, the start of Challenger at 19.30.85 was in between. Most intervals between two starts of the same Shuttle were substantialy longer than 100 days. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Mar 18 '18 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe the other answer describes that turnaround. I was only talking about back-to-back missions. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 18 '18 at 16:51
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The shortest intervals below 100 days between two starts of the same Shuttle were:

  • 55 days between 10.03.85 and 11.27.85 for Atlantis
  • 63 days between 02.03.84 and 04.06.84 for Challenger
  • 66 days between 04.12.85 and 06.17.85 for Discovery
  • 70 days between 08.30.84 and 11.08.84 for Discovery
  • 71 days between 06.17.85 and 08.27.85 for Discovery
  • 73 days between 06.18.83 and 08.30.83 for Challenger
  • 75 days between 04.04.83 and 06.18.83 for Challenger
  • 77 days between 01.25.85 and 04.12.85 for Discovery
  • 78 days between 11.08.84 and 01.25.85 for Discovery
  • 88 days between 11.08.84 and 01.25.85 for Columbia
  • 90 days between 10.30.85 and 01.28.86 for Challenger
  • 91 days between 04.29.85 and 07.29.85 for Challenger
  • 93 days between 07.29.85 and 10.30.85 for Challenger
  • 97 days between 03.22.82 and 06.27.82 for Columbia
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