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As you can see in this animation

time 11:45 >, during latter Shuttle missions EVA airlock was placed in payload bay and used both for docking with ISS (with orbital docking system on top of it) and for astronauts spacewalks. All while orbiter was turned upside down to protect crew against debris strike and payload bay was open to allow radiators to radiate heat. During missions with spacelab, Crew cabin was always connected through access tunnel with spacelab and between them was EVA airlock with ODS. https://lh5.ggpht.com/_1wtadqGaaPs/TF6EG3y7VlI/AAAAAAAAPAk/zBp7Hd2AvtU/tmp3D23_thumb1_thumb1.jpg?imgmax=800

But for early Shuttle missions orbiter EVA airlock was placed inside the Crew Cabin (next to entry to payload bay) and they made spacewalks through this entry to the payload bay. Where was then ODS (orbital docking system) placed on missions with internal airlocks ?

During spacelab missions, Crew cabin must be connected with spacelab through access tunnel, which had already EVA airlock mounted on tunnel adapter to orbiter, so were internal airlocks ever used for missions with spacelabs ? Why would they need two ?

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for posting this as a followup to comments. Answer is in work. $\endgroup$ Oct 23 '21 at 14:50
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The shuttle had a wide variety of airlock / tunnel / pressurized payload bay module configurations that were used over its long history.

Driving these configurations were some general, common sense rules.

And the major configuration differences between Orbiters important to this topic:

  • whether the Orbiter had an internal or external airlock installed
  • whether or not it needed to dock
  • whether or not it had a pressurized module installed in the payload bay.

Here are different configurations that were used, and why.

Internal Airlock only

The original Orbiter configuration. Used for missions which did not dock and did not have a pressurized module installed in the payload bay. EVA through hatch in aft bulkhead.

enter image description here

External Airlock only

The later Orbiter configuration (except for OV-102 (Columbia) which was never modified). Used for missions which did not dock and did not have a pressurized module installed in the payload bay. EVA through aft hatch of external airlock.

enter image description here

Internal Airlock, transfer tunnel, Spacelab

This addresses your specific question

so were internal airlocks ever used for missions with spacelabs ? Why would they need two ?

Used for non-docking Spacelab missions. EVA through hatch in transfer tunnel. A hatch in the tunnel aft of the EVA hatch prevented depressurizing the Spacelab during EVA.

They didn't have "two" as you asked about. The EVA hatch in the tunnel adapter was not an airlock per se. The internal airlock and the section of tunnel up to the hatch aft of the EVA hatch were depressurized for EVA.

enter image description here

Internal airlock, tunnel adapter, Orbiter Docking System shell, transfer tunnel, Spacehab

This answers your specific question

Where was then ODS (orbital docking system) placed on missions with internal airlocks ?

Used for early Shuttle-Mir missions (i.e. STS-86) before the Orbiter had the external airlock mod done. Provides for docking, EVA through hatch in the forward tunnel adapter.

enter image description here

Tunnel adapter, external airlock

Used for early ISS missions (i.e. STS-88). Provides for docking, EVA through aft hatch of external airlock.

enter image description here

External airlock with docking system

Nominal ISS mission config in later stages of assembly. Provides for docking, EVA through aft hatch of external airlock.

enter image description here

References -

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. What would happen if on mission which did not dock and did not have a pressurized module installed in the payload bay < only internal airlock without EVA through hatch in transfer tunnel > orbiter heatshield get damaged during ascend or debris strike on orbit and it could no longer survive reentry (like it happened to Columbia). Would there be any way, how they could send other orbiter to dock with it and transfer all astronauts for safe return to Earth. I thought that after Columbia all orbiters had option to dock with other orbiters for potential rescue missions. $\endgroup$
    – David Cage
    Oct 23 '21 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidCage no, orbiters could never dock with one another. The rescue orbiter would grapple the damaged orbiter and the crew would transfer via EVA. spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts125/090508sts400/grapple.jpg spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts125/090508sts400 $\endgroup$ Oct 23 '21 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ The article didn't explain why Endeavour couldn't use some specially made longer retractable tunnel hidden inside Endeavour payload bay with EVA hatch at it end, instead of forcing all 7 Atlantis astronauts to make 3 separate spacewalks after Endeavour grabbed Atlantis with it robot arm. Good topic for new question which can be asked later. $\endgroup$
    – David Cage
    Oct 23 '21 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidCage because there was only one mission after the Columbia accident that didn't go to the ISS. All the ISS missions would have used the ISS as a safe haven. The only non ISS mission was the last Hubble repair mission, so it would have been foolish to spend a bunch of money for retractable airlocks and such for just one mission. Especially when it was definitely not a slam dunk that the mission was even going to happen - it was officially cancelled at one point. $\endgroup$ Oct 23 '21 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ Just for clarification, how often were orbiters docking with ISS while they had installed pressurized module (spacelab) on their back, connected with crew cabin through access tunnel. And how then astronauts could made spacewalks for potential orbiter repairs, since hatch (witch ODS on top) was connected to ISS and other hatch must be connected with access tunnel to spacelab. I see only these two hatches in animation above and your manuals. Were there also other hatches for EVA on the sides of orbiter forward tunnel adapter or only option was closest side hatch on ISS. $\endgroup$
    – David Cage
    Oct 24 '21 at 20:28

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