Questions tagged [external-tank]

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10
votes
1answer
520 views

Why is the Space Shuttle's External Tank fuelled through the Orbiter's main engine plumbing system?

This answer states that Space Shuttle's External Tank (ET) was fuelled (this process is known as Tanking) through the Orbiter's main engine plumbing system with the Tail Service Masts (TSM). One ...
13
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1answer
2k views

How was the space shuttle fuelled?

How was the external fuel tank filled with LH2 and LOX while the shuttle was on the launch pad? I know there was a gaseous oxygen umbilical on the top of the ET and a gaseous hydrogen umbilical about ...
5
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1answer
166 views

Why was the nose cone on the Space Shuttle's external tank pointy?

Inspired by comments under this answer to this question Just how pointy does a rocket's nosecone need to be? (see also Why are the nose cones of current spacecraft less pointy?) Why was the ...
6
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1answer
152 views

How were the Space Shuttle and its External Tank connected (structurally)?

Source: Discovery Launch Captured by Multiple Cameras, NASA, YouTube; edited A more clickbaity but accurate description of my question would be: How did the Space Shuttle / External Tank not shear ...
0
votes
1answer
69 views

Would it be achievable to use the first stage of a launch to Venus as the envelope of an airship in its atmosphere?

Like the Orbiter Vehicle of the Space Shuttle was mounted on its external tank, the "gondola", the crewcar of the airship, could be likewise mounted on the last stage of the launch rocket, that would ...
8
votes
0answers
127 views

What were the Top 10 Shuttle Risks in John Young's “famous letter”?

Whilst reading A Technical History of the External Tank I ran across this comment: Although the problem has not recurred, John Young, in his famous top ten Shuttle risk letter ...
20
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1answer
2k views

What is the function of the corrugations on a section of the Space Shuttle's external tank?

There is a section of the Space Shuttle's external tank that appears to have large corrugations. I spotted them and saw how deep they are in a photo in this answer, a cropped section of which is shown ...
4
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1answer
260 views

Would the Space Shuttle External Tank have made orbit as a VT SSTO with 6 SSMEs?

Dropping the external boosters and also the entire 75-100 ton orbiter from the picture, would the tank all by itself have made orbit? This would require bolting at least 5, better 6, perhaps even 9 ...
1
vote
1answer
189 views

Why didn’t the space shuttle external tank have pressure-relief vents?

During a space shuttle abort, it would have been vitally important not to allow the vehicle to droop below 265 kilofeet during powered flight, as excessive aerodynamic heating below 265 kft would have ...
2
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1answer
108 views

Deciding factors for launch site

While deciding the launch site layout, what parameters are considered? I understand that the various components like monitoring station, propellant storage tanks are kept at some safe distance. How ...
26
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2answers
2k views

What's on the bottom of the Shuttle's external fuel tank?

In the Wikipedia article about Spaceplane there's a (rare and cool) shot of the Space Shuttle from one of the SBRs immediately after it was released. The web page for the image says: Space Shuttle ...
2
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1answer
770 views

Why didn't the space shuttle use non-foam-shedding external tanks?

Throughout its lifetime, the Space Shuttle's external tank had severe problems with portions of its foam insulation coming apart and falling off, which NASA was never able to fix. The flying ...
26
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3answers
4k views

Challenger disaster: how full was the external tank at the time of destruction?

We have all heard about the Challenger disaster. Reading the Vehicle breakup subsection, this sentence made me very curious: The external tank at this point suffered a complete structural failure, ...
5
votes
1answer
720 views

Why is the shuttle's external tank's metal skin painted the same dark color as the foam insulation?

The last flight-qualified space shuttle external tank in existence is now in Los Angeles and moved to its new home over the weekend. I noticed that what appears to be the metal skin under the ...
4
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2answers
1k views

Why did the External Tank not have its own engines?

Please edit, if 'engines' is not the correct term (layman here). As I understand it, you have your SRB's, then they detached, and the External Tank supplied the liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel to the ...
7
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2answers
1k views

What is the 'ET Disposal Problem'?

In reading a question over on Physics.SE (I can't quite remember what it was about, something to do with rocket stages and launching over water) I came across a link to this picture:- Over on the ...
15
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2answers
3k views

Did some of the Shuttle fuel tanks actually orbit?

In Buzz Aldrin's book Encounter with Tiber, he mentions that some of the Space Shuttle's fuel tanks actually made it to orbit. Did this actually happen, and if so, for how long did they stay in orbit, ...
12
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3answers
6k views

Were Space Shuttle External Tanks recoverable and reusable?

During the launch of STS vehicle, the two stage 0 Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) were jettisoned and recovered after they gently parachuted into the ocean: But what happened with the STS External Tanks ...