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

enter image description here

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?


1 Answer 1


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.


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.