For context, after an in-depth Google search, I asked the question "What was the volume of the Space Shuttle orbiter, not just the crew cabin or cargo bay but the total volume of the entire craft?" on Quora on August 15, 2018, and did not receive a satisfactory answer. Then, I attempted to get an answer by asking a few people with modeling programs and/or scale models online if they could do a volume test, to which they declined. So, after a lot of time and deliberation, I decided to get a StackExchange account and ask it here, where hopefully there are some more knowledgeable folks that could answer it.

Also, if possible, what is the "fluid/vacuum volume" (i.e. that without solid elements) in comparison to the full volume?

I want to know this (and for this information to be easily available) partially in order to find the surface-area-to-volume ratio of a "generic" spaceplane for calculations regarding them. The surface area of the Shuttle Orbiter (at least its TPS—if anyone has better figures that'd be great) is easily available, so what is really needed to produce that figure is the volume.

  • $\begingroup$ You seek the volume with the payload bay doors closed? i.e. entry config? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 25 '19 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Well, the volume of the payload bay is easily calculatable at least to a rough degree, so it doesn't matter much, but yes. After all, that's how a physical volume test would be performed. $\endgroup$ – Grant Hartlage Jun 25 '19 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ I may have something on it. Vaguely remember arguments about whether bouyancy needed to be modeled in a simulator I worked on. Will look. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 25 '19 at 20:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Programs like Meshmixer can give these stats for 3D model files (Shuttle can be downloaded for free) -- This is typically done to cost estimate 3D printing (but you'd scale to actual size). $\endgroup$ – amI Jun 26 '19 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ @aml Okay, I sold my soul to Autodesk and downloaded Meshmixer. I then downloaded an official low-poly model from NASA, converted it from .3ds to .stl, and imported it into the program. I rotated it as close to 90° as I could (89.8°) and recorded its length, comparing it to that of the actual orbiter to establish proportionality. So, the volume of the Space Shuttle orbiter including engines and seemingly excluding wing control surfaces is ~965 cubic meters, with a surface area of ~2002 square meters. Thank you! Now for the volume/surface area without engines... $\endgroup$ – Grant Hartlage Jun 26 '19 at 18:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.