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The Space Shuttle had several aerodynamic control surfaces to control it during reentry and the final phase of atmospheric flight to landing.

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It seems a waste to haul tons of control surface to orbit without making some use of them to control the vehicle during ascent. However, the Shuttle’s control surfaces were obviously optimised to be used in a glide, and with the centre of mass of the vehicle in a very different place compared to ascent.

So, were the shuttle’s aerodynamic control surfaces of used during launch and ascent?

Was it even possible (or advisable) to use the control surfaces during launch?

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They were used, but not to alter the flight path - rather, to reduce aerodynamic loads on the vehicle structure, particularly hinge moment loads on the elevons. This is known as load relief.

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