Related: Could Space Shuttle's wings be diminished?

During the sanctioning and early development of the Space Shuttle, things got somewhat budget-political, and a number of additional design requirements were imposed on the design that caused it to depart from a really pragmatic attempt at building either a general-purpose orbital spaceship or a (semi-)reusable launch vehicle to lift large amounts of cargo into LEO at an economical cost.

This all resulted, arguably, in the construction of a vehicle that was substantially suboptimal, and many of its most demanding capabilities were never used.

Among the added design requirements I can identify:

  • Take off, launch or retrieve a satellite, and land after a single orbit, which requires lots of cross range, and is only useful for military purposes
  • More generally, having high cross range
  • Flying into a polar orbit
  • Having a very large cargo bay for huge military reconnaissance satellites
  • Having a heavy lift capacity, for huge military reconnaissance satellites and also for being used for all space lift, rather than just some of it or launching crew, supplies, and large cargo separately.

Is it possible to break down or prioritize these different added requirements in terms of what they meant for the increase in cost and footprint of the Space Shuttle?


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