Questions tagged [space-shuttle]

The Space Shuttle was a crewed, partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft operated by NASA from 1981 to 2011.

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Is this "Attach Orbiter Here / Note: Black Side Down" sign on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft real?

I found this image online, but is it a real message?
Baldrickk's user avatar
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Did Feynman cite a fallacy about only circles having the same width in all directions as a reason for the Challenger disaster?

In a Math Overflow post about mathematical fallacies it was stated that: Richard Feynman regarded the mistake that a "circle is the only figure which has the same width in all directions" as one ...
StayOnTarget's user avatar
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Was there a backup plan in case the Shuttle toilet malfunctioned?

What was the plan in case the Space Shuttle toilet malfunctioned? How were the astronauts expected to then handle their waste? Did they carry Apollo-style fecal collection assemblies (poop bags)? ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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59 votes
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Why is the Shuttle Landing Facility runway surrounded by water?

The runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida has a unique feature that looks rather intentional: it is surrounded by "moats" or "canals". They certainly look man-made, so I presume this is ...
JohnB's user avatar
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Do astronauts use plumber's bifocals?

Adults steadily loose the ability to see close-up (presbyopia). By the mid-40's, most people have surrendered to the inevitable and switched to bifocals. These provide closer focus when looking down (...
Woody's user avatar
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56 votes
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This image of the Space Shuttle is truly beautiful, but is it real?

I saw this image in the Infobae article La NASA probará un paracaídas para posar naves espaciales en Marte ("NASA will test a parachute to place spaceships on Mars"). The image looks plausible to me, ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Why use water tanks from a retired Space Shuttle?

In 2015, technicians entered the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour to remove the water tanks, with the goal of reusing these tanks on ISS. The space shuttle Endeavour is retired and on display at the ...
Nightrider's user avatar
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54 votes
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What is the purpose of the jets of water often under rocket engines during launch?

I have watched several STS launches, and noticed that there were always huge jets of water that would begin right before the rocket engines lit. They were right under the rocket, mounted to the pad. ...
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Was there really a shuttle toilet training device with a "boresight camera"?

Was there really a shuttle toilet training device with a camera looking up at the user's fundament? This seems a bit undignified to say the least.
Organic Marble's user avatar
52 votes
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What would NASA have done if they knew Columbia was catastrophically damaged?

When the Columbia Shuttle broke apart in 2003, it was known after the launch that a piece of foam had fallen and hit the Shuttle. NASA apparently chose not to investigate it as well as they could have....
duzzy's user avatar
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Why don't the Space Shuttle's tires explode in the vacuum of space?

According to this NASA article the tires are inflated to 340 psi (main gear) and 300 psi (nose gear). At landing, there is significant strain, but what about in space? Are the tires exposed to vacuum ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
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Why were the Space Shuttle Orbiter's landing gear not level?

Looking at an image of the orbiter on the ground, it's obvious the nose landing gear is positioned higher than the other landing gear in the wings, making the nose of the orbiter droop down. As far as ...
DrKlutz's user avatar
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Could the shuttle wait out the whole burn of SRBs on launchpad in case of a problem on launch?

Somewhere on this site I read that in NASA, the rocket leaves the launchpad (through release of explosive bolts) only after the engines have attained full power. Assuming in the scarce seconds ...
SF.'s user avatar
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Why were the Space Shuttle's main engines placed on the orbiter?

Since the main engines can't be used after external tank separation, what's the reason for having the engines on the orbiter rather than just building a third rocket on the stack instead of the ...
Brad's user avatar
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Why did the Space Shuttle fly upside-down normally

After reading this answer I found out that the space shuttle normally spent its time upside-down. Why is that? I'd guess it has to do with shielding from the sun, but I can't back that up with ...
David says Reinstate Monica's user avatar
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Would it have been possible to have sent the Space Shuttle around the Moon?

I'm curious about whether or not the Space Shuttle could have been used as a lunar orbit vehicle - basically, would have it been technically capable of getting to the Moon, entering orbit, then ...
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How hard would it be to fly a Space Shuttle again?

Since in the wake of the failure of Soyuz MS-10, "humanity is effectively trapped on Earth" (this of course ignores Chinese launchers), one might try to fly one of the remaining Space Shuttle orbiters ...
Martin Schröder's user avatar
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Was the payload bay of the Space Shuttle depressurized before launch?

We know that the payload bay of the Space Shuttle Orbiter carried satellites, pieces of equipment for repairing satellites and components of the International Space Station. Was the payload bay of ...
Vishnu's user avatar
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Why didn't the Space Shuttle bounce back into space as many times as possible so as to lose a lot of kinetic energy up there?

From this video, I got know that Space Shuttle did reentry around 5000 miles away from landing site. It's angle of attack is maintained around 40 degrees during re-entry. If it is more than that, it ...
SRD's user avatar
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During the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster of 2003, Why Did The Flight Director Say, "Lock the doors."?

Why does the NASA Flight Director say, "Lock the doors.", when realizing that disaster had struck for Space Shuttle Columbia, back in 2003? Does he mean lock the doors on the space shuttle that's ...
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43 votes
3 answers
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What made NASA shut down the Shuttle program?

Recently NASA shut down its Space Shuttle program. Between the first launch on April 12, 1981, and the final landing on July 21, 2011, NASA's space shuttle fleet --Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, ...
Hash's user avatar
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Why didn't the Space Shuttle have a launch escape system?

Since the very beginning of space exploration, rockets had some sort of Launch Escape System (LES). From this Wikipedia article, we know that Mercury and Apollo had an escape tower, while Vostok and ...
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35 votes
7 answers
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How could a 90 m/s delta-v be enough to commit the space shuttle to landing?

Wikipedia claims (although with no citation) that in order to make the space shuttle land, an initial powered delta-v of 322 km/h was applied in orbit, retrograde to the shuttle's orbit. 322 km/h is ...
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What operating system(s) were used in the space shuttle?

Is there any possibility to learn and use the operating system languages used in the space shuttle?
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What kind of "safe" was carried on the Space Shuttles?

This Smithsonian/Air & Space Magazine article about the secret/classified Space Shuttle missions contains this anecdote: On the seventh day of the mission, Mattingly and pilot Hank Hartsfield ...
CameronSS's user avatar
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7 answers
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Why didn't NASA use the shuttle to make a profit?

My understanding is the shuttle was designed as cost-effective workhorse, a space-van to ferry cargo up to the ISS, conduct zero-G experiments and put satellites into orbit. So why didn't NASA take ...
JayTarka's user avatar
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4 answers
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Was the Space Shuttle ever actually intended for the military to steal satellites without the owner's consent?

Related: Did the Space Shuttle have "military uses"? (This question is discussed in comments, but not really conclusively answered.) One of the military requirements that was added on to ...
ikrase's user avatar
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Why do the Shuttle's external tanks appear to be rusted?

Wikipedia article states as STS-1 at liftoff. The External Tank was painted white for the first two Space Shuttle launches. From STS-3 on, it was left unpainted. I wonder why the ...
Hash's user avatar
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What is this large fan in front of the Space Shuttle during Ground Turnaround?

In this amazing video of multiple camera angles of Endeavour landing and post-landing processing, at around the 15:45–15:56 minute mark, we see a large propeller running in front of the Orbiter. It ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
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What are the 'lights' inside Shuttle main engines at landing?

I have a night-landing photo of the Shuttle showing lights (I assume some type of glow-plug to burn off extraneous fuel). My understanding is that only the OMS engines burn to begin reentry. Can ...
BStone's user avatar
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1 answer
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How was the Shuttle loaded and unloaded from its carrier aircraft?

The Space Shuttle was ferried to various locations by the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. How was the shuttle put on and taken off the SCA? (Previously mentioned in this comment but never asked or ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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31 votes
6 answers
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Did the Space Shuttle have "military uses"?

In an interview with Oleg Kotov, a Russian cosmonaut, he makes an ambiguous statement on the military uses of the Space Shuttle: New Scientist: After the cold war, why didn't Russia maintain its ...
coleopterist's user avatar
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What are these membranes at the aft end of the Shuttle that get torn off during lift off?

The link to the Space Shuttle launch video. At 1:30 mark, three circular disks get torn away. It happens immediately after the engine ignition begins. Here is a cropped image of the Discovery after ...
karthikeyan's user avatar
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1 answer
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What were the differences between the STS Orbiters?

There were six STS orbiter vehicles, of which five were operational for space flight: OV-099: Space Shuttle Challenger OV-101: Space Shuttle Enterprise OV-102: Space Shuttle Columbia OV-103: Space ...
Ludo's user avatar
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Did the Challenger SRBs fail due to design for reuse?

All that I know about the Challenger tragedy was that some o-rings failed in the reusable solid rocket boosters (SRBs) due to the low temperatures that day. I'm curious if such an accident would have ...
tau's user avatar
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1 answer
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Did the astronauts seated on the space shuttle mid-deck have responsibilities during reentry and landing?

Space Shuttle mid-deck, it doesn't look like there is much for the astronauts there to do. I recognize this photo was not taken during a mission. I couldn't find an image of the mid-deck during ...
Bob516's user avatar
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29 votes
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Isn't Starship way too big?

The Shuttle was designed with a huge payload of 20 tons. This was supposed to not be a problem since: the reusability would drive down costs until satellite operators dropped expensive space hardware ...
Abdullah is not an Amalekite's user avatar
29 votes
3 answers
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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, ...
le_daim's user avatar
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How many times has there been 13 people inside the ISS and is it hard on the station?

I just saw this photo in @SF.'s answer it is ISS023-E-023513 STS-131 and Expedition 23. The full caption is below. Are there really 13 people on the ISS at one time? Is STS-131 the only shuttle ...
uhoh's user avatar
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How much longer did Columbia need to survive?

The breakup of Columbia occurred about 15 minutes after entry interface and the key event in this was the loss of hydraulic pressure due to burn through of all three hydraulic lines. How much longer ...
David Findlay's user avatar
27 votes
11 answers
10k views

Could the Space Shuttle have landed on any long runway other than those specially reinforced at Kennedy (TTS), and Edwards (EDW)?

Wikipedia writes to say Buran was the first space shuttle to perform an unmanned flight, including landing in fully automatic mode. ... The same article writes further The automated landing ...
Everyone's user avatar
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27 votes
1 answer
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How did Space Shuttles get off the NASA Crawler?

The crawler is what transports Shuttles and rockets from the rocket assembly building to launch pad. When the crawler reaches the launch pad, how is the Shuttle transferred from the crawler to the pad?...
space attic's user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
1k views

How would the space shuttle have been retrieved following a TAL out of Vandenberg?

Had the space shuttle ever launched out of Vandenberg AFB, its primary transoceanic abort landing (TAL) site would have been Mataveri International Airport (SCIP) on Rapa Nui (Easter Island; Isla de ...
Vikki's user avatar
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26 votes
7 answers
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Did the space shuttle fly straight "up" when leaving Earth?

I was watching space shuttle launch recently, and at 2:53 you can see the space shuttle from an angle, even though it's high above the earth and you should see only the bottom. Did the space shuttle ...
Buksy's user avatar
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26 votes
2 answers
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What were the most impactful non-fatal failures on STS missions?

Which failures on STS missions were the most impactful? Please exclude the o-ring issue on STS-51-L, as well as the tile damage caused by insulative ET foam on STS-107. Unrelated failures that ...
Speedphoenix's user avatar
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26 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 answers
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Technology: How would a state-of-the-art space shuttle be built?

As the title states, if a space shuttle 2.0 were to be built with current technology, in which ways or areas might it be superior to the original space shuttle? Which components are most ripe for ...
m.fuss's user avatar
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1 answer
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When was it publicly revealed that a KH-11 spy satellite took pictures of the first Shuttle flight?

Even before the first Shuttle flight, NASA was already concerned about possible damage during liftoff. They had arranged for a KH-11 spy satellite to photograph the shuttle in orbit. The operation ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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25 votes
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How can the reusable Falcon 9 succeed when the reusable Space Shuttle failed?

Space Shuttle was designed to be partially reusable but was later shut down because it turned out to be very expensive to run compared to disposable spacecraft. Now Falcon 9 is suddenly reusable to a ...
sharptooth's user avatar
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What was the nature of the known bugs in the Space Shuttle software?

It's been claimed or suggested in other posts that during the entire history of the Space Shuttle, only one software bug actually survived the development and review process, making it to flight. ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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