This photo from an answer on the Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests shows the front attachment between the Enterprise orbiter and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The support strut reaches the attachment point through the opened landing gear doors. The landing gear is also lowered.

front attachment

During the ALTs, between the aircraft separation and landing, was there a period of time when the landing gear were raised and the doors closed? Or were the landing gear just left down and the doors open for the entire glide?

It's my understanding that Enterprise had no hydraulic system, so I'm not even sure how one would even do that. On the other hand, it would seem that it would make a difference in the Enterprise's flight response.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Enterprise had hydraulics otherwise it would have had no flight control. Elevons, rudder, etc were all hydraulic. There was an anomaly related to leaking fuel from an APU during one of the tests. $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2019 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


Based on photos I have seen, the image you have, is the oddity?

Looking at other photos of Enterprise as it separates from the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) the gear is closed.

Enterprise leaving the SCA

Video of ALT-1 (one of the approach and landing tests) is online and shows no gear visible at separation, and a normal gear deployment late on approach.

All the rest I found are basically the same sort of view, and you cannot see the gear extended. So I think you managed to find an interesting picture that does not represent all the test cases.

  • $\begingroup$ @BowlOfRed Go edit that into the post... Feel free. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Sep 10, 2019 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ ALT-1, I think. $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2019 at 19:59
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The ferry 747 uses the same attach points as the External Tank (so not using landing gear doors). $\endgroup$
    – amI
    Sep 11, 2019 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @aml correct! I missed that. $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2019 at 11:16

Enterprise's landing gear was lowered once while mounted to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Prior to the first free flight, shuttle commander Fred Haise wanted to be absolutely sure the gear-deploy system would work, so he test-lowered the gear after they landed on the last captive-carry test flight prior to the first free flight. The picture you posted represents the results of that test-deployment.


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.