I found this picture of the left panel of the Orbiter:

enter image description here

What is the function of that small detachable tube?


1 Answer 1


That tube was slipped over the nosewheel steering (NWS) selector switch so that the commander could easily find it without taking their eyes out of the window in case of a nosewheel steering failure during rollout.

If the red circle in the picture in the question were a clock, the nosewheel steering selection switch is about at 6:30-7:00. You can see how it doesn't have the mushroom shaped top on it like the BODY FLAP or ENTRY MODE switches near it do.

This shot of page 7.4-20 in the Shuttle Crew Operations Manual will serve as a reference.

screenshot of SCOM showing switch and extension device

The extension was removed and stowed on the Velcro tab as shown in the picture in the question once the shuttle made it into orbit, and was reinstalled for entry. These clips from the Post Insertion and Deorbit Prep checklists show those actions.

(Post Insertion) shot from PI checklist showing extension removal

(Deorbit Prep) shot from DO Prep checklist showing extension mounting

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    $\begingroup$ @Cadence you are right. I was thinking that the tube in the question pointed at noon. Will fix. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ That's an interesting (and unusual) hack, I would have imagined a switch with a different color, with a slightly longer lever, not a transparent tube ;-) $\endgroup$
    – ocirocir
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble found: in the first 360 view blog.kuula.co/virtual-tour-space-shuttle $\endgroup$
    – ocirocir
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ @ocirocir Differently shaped handles was a common hack in aviation. You want something that not only looks different but feels quite different so under pressure you immediately know what you have your hand on. Design Of Everyday Things has an example of replacing critical levers in commercial airplane cockpits with beer tap handles. $\endgroup$
    – Schwern
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Schwern, I'm picturing the related instructions in the reference manual. "Retract Budweiser to idle. Set to Michelob to 10 degrees. Extend Coors." $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 3:02

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