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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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29
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7answers
11k views

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 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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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 ...
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For a typical Shuttle mission, how much solid fuel is leftover at SRB separation?

If I understand correctly, solid booster rockets never expend literally all their fuel before jetissoning, because the burn rate slows way down in the end and it would take too long to spend it all, ...
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1answer
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What satellites did the Shuttle retrieve from orbit?

Hobbes wrote: The Shuttle was designed for things NASA rarely or never used: [...] The ability to retrieve satellites from orbit was used a few times, but not as often as envisioned. I wasn't ...
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1answer
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Did all of the Space Shuttles dock with multiple space stations or crewed spacecraft?

For example, the Space Shuttle Endeavour did dock with both MIR (bringing apple seeds) and the ISS. Did all of the shuttles dock with more than one space station and/or crewed spacecraft? above: ...
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Does 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. Does the space shuttle ...
20
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1answer
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How often, if ever, was “software” updated in the shuttle orbiter?

It dawned on me that the tragic STS-107 disaster of (my favorite shuttle) Columbia was after more than 20 years of service. Computers in 1981 were of course significantly inferior to what I had in my ...
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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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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 ...
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Is it possible for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) to hit the Space Shuttle after jettison?

We all know that the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) were the pair of large solid rockets used by the United States' NASA Space Shuttle during the first two minutes of its powered flight. ...
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What is the problem with aborting a Space Shuttle launch?

In the question Why didn't the Space Shuttle have a launch escape system? there was discussion in the commentary about why the Space Shuttle could not safely abort through much of its envelope. ...
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Challenging the Kármán line from above

The initial conditions of the thought experiment is (very) LEO / reentry. capsules, space shuttle and other spacecraft can generate lift in upper atmosphere during reentry, in order to reduce ...
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2answers
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Which STS mission raised the normal engine throttle above 100%, and what change to the SSME made that possible?

As indirectly stated in an answer to How long does Max-Q last?, during later Space Shuttle launches the main engines were operating at above 100% of their nominal maximum thrust. Specifically from ...
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4answers
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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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3answers
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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, ...
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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, ...
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Why was the Shuttle's LOX tank on top of the LH2 tank, since that makes it more top-heavy?

The external tank for the shuttle contained tanks of liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen for the main engines to use. These two have similar (though not equal) volumes, but the Oxygen is heavier in an obvious ...
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5answers
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Music played in space

Besides the Curiosity rovers's rendition of Happy Birthday and Chris Hadfields guitar playing aboard the ISS, is there a list of music played in space live (robots playing music counts too)? Note: ...
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How many times were there thirteen people inside the ISS? 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 ...
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2answers
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Why did the Space Shuttles perform a rollover maneuver during launch?

I want to understand the reasons why the shuttle did the rollover manoeuvre after launch. I would think better to do it earlier after launch while the air flow pressure is low. Why not just adjust ...
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1answer
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Shear forces between Shuttle, tank, and boosters - what pushes what?

This is the question that I should have asked here. The space shuttle and the two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) are mechanically attached to the giant tank. SRB's, shuttle, and tank all experience ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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5answers
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What would the Δv cost of bringing the space shuttle external tank to orbit be?

There was an independent proposal that the space shuttle external tank could have been lifted all the way to orbit, and then used as a structural material in space stations. In terms of propellant ...
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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?
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 could we improve? and ...
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If the Space Shuttle missed its landing approach, what could have been done?

As I understand it, the Space Shuttle was essentially a glider when it was coming back to land, and the engines were not there to facilitate powered flight. So what was the procedure, had the Space ...
5
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1answer
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How can phenolic (resin?) handle rocket engine nozzle temperatures?

I just saw @OrganicMarble's survey answer that bravely tackles the wide variety of technologies used to make different types of rocket nozzles. One item caught my eye: Nozzles may also be made of ...
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1answer
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How did the Space Shuttle maintain thrust/weight balance

As a seasoned KSP player, I am aware of how important it is during ascent to have center of thrust and center of mass perfectly aligned. If you don't, your rocket will deviate from its course and ...
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2answers
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Was a real Space Shuttle ever used as a really big simulator?

@OrganicMarble's answer to How much of the Shuttle was physically realized in the simulator? makes me wonder if Shuttle crew ever sat or stood or otherwise experienced being in an actual Space Shuttle ...
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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 ...
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Before the Columbia accident, were there shuttle manifests/plans for after ISS assembly complete?

Before the loss of Columbia during the STS-107 mission on February 1 2003, the International Space Station was scheduled to reach "Core Complete" status in February 2004. (Although this was ...
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1answer
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Why was Space Shuttle Atlantis selected for Mir docking so frequently?

In this answer @RussellBorogove discussed the frequency of dockings of each space shuttle with the Mir space station. I've summarized those frequencies, total number of missions flown, and year of ...
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What effect (if any) would leaving the cargo bay doors open have had during a shuttle reentry?

The cargo bay doors of the Space Shuttle were used on-orbit as radiators for thermal control. The cargo bay doors were closed before the reentry burn and descent to the surface, but could there have ...
6
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1answer
564 views

Apollo/Shuttle launch site fuel handling

I read somewhere that fuel was delivered to the Apollo launch site by tanker truck (for cryogenic propellants) and rail cars (for the kerosene). Were the fuels transferred directly from delivery ...
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2answers
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Structural composition of shuttle liquid fuel tank wall

Somewhere I read the shuttle fuel tank kept structural integrity only thanks to internal pressure of the fuel, a'la inflated balloon; empty it would collapse under own weight; and the walls were ...
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1answer
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How does the Space Shuttle's SSME engine's thrust vary after ignition?

After writing the question Do Blue Origin's BE-3 engines need to run for 7 seconds to “warm up”?, I took a look at the YouTube video SSME ignition sequence (found in What are the small gas jets at the ...
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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 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....
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In a cryogenic fuel rocket, at what pressure is the fuel injected into the engine?

The pressure in the Space Shuttle's main engines must be very high to get the vehicle off the ground (with the SRB assist, of course). With such high pressures inside the engine, how do you inject ...
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Are the US shuttle and Buran the only space planes to have launched vertically with wings exposed?

The Space Shuttle and the Soviet/Russian Buran have launched vertically, and their wings were exposed to the full load of aerodynamic forces during the launch. Stability may come from many factors, ...
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Communication Blackout

All the atmospheric entry missions endure a communication blackout. What parameters except plasma penetration frequency affect the blackout time and how ? Also, Comm Blackout states that space ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Space Shuttle range safety system - Why is there a caution light?

Why did the Space Shuttle have an indicator to alert the crew to the arming of the range safety destruct system? Quoting from here: The first message, called arm, allows the onboard logic to enable ...
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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 ...
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How far would the STS get without the SRBs

This is a very stupid hypothetical - sorry! Would the Space Shuttle Orbiter plus external tank have been able to leave the pad just using the SSMEs (i.e. without the solid rocket boosters ~80% of its ...
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How fast can the space shuttle change its attitude in space?

How long does it take to the space shuttle to change its orientation while operating out of the Earth's atmosphere, either by turning or rolling? I.e. what is the average/maximum rotation speed? What ...
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1answer
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STS: How much thrust did the nominal post-MECO LOX dump produce?

Following up to some questions asked in comments to the answer to this question: With pressure-fed engines, is any measurable thrust generated by venting the pressurant out the engine bell after ...