I've found information like the Space Shuttle Orbiter has so many thrusters each generating so much force to maneuver "with redundancy" in orbit. But without knowing something like how many thrusters are firing and their relative orientations, I don't know how to come up with a bottom-line number in m/s^2 or rad/s^2. Even approximate or typical values would be helpful.

  • $\begingroup$ The information you seek for rotational motion of the space shuttle is in the answer to this question: space.stackexchange.com/questions/14560/… It isn't a duplicate though because it doesn't address translational motion. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ That helps a lot! I suppose it must be similar for other spacecraft, like Soyuz and Dragon, since they're meant to do similar things, like match orbits and dock with stuff? $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Greg The smaller spacecraft might do things a little faster than the shuttle (far and away the heaviest crewed spacecraft ever flown), but probably not much, because safety is paramount and there's usually no real hurry to maneuver. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not doing highly serious research, anyway. More asking myself questions like "If a Space Shuttle and a Soyuz capsule dogfought in orbit..." So approximately 0.5 ft/s^2 is good enough, and the rest is orbital mechanics. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


I found transverse acceleration for the Space Shuttle Orbiter on page 1009 of the Shuttle Crew Operations Manual (December 15, 2008). I don't know how to reproduce the table here. But it depends on weight, of course. Also axis and direction. At 180,000 pounds (lightest weight in the table), max of 0.61 ft/s^2 in +X (noseward), apparently 0.32 in -X, 0.22 in +-Y (port and starboard), 1.29 in +Z (through the deck), 0.98 in -Z, and with the OMS 2.14 ft/s^2. Pretty darn soft acceleration. But if any maneuver could be done in minutes, to do it in seconds was considered a waste of fuel.

This older answer gives the rotational parameters: How fast can the space shuttle change its attitude in space?

  • $\begingroup$ I added a link to the answer with the rotational parameters; that makes this a complete answer. Please rollback if the change is unwelcome. And welcome to Space SE! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Greg it's always okay to accept your own answer. It's been a month your answer is well received, even by shuttle gurus, so I think you can click accept. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 23:38

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.