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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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92
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3answers
16k views

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?
61
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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 ...
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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, ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
48
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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 ...
43
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2answers
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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 ...
43
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3answers
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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 ...
42
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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. ...
41
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4answers
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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 ...
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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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6answers
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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 ...
39
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1answer
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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 ...
37
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3answers
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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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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 ...
36
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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, ...
32
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2answers
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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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6answers
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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 ...
30
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6answers
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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 ...
30
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1answer
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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 ...
30
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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 ...
29
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3answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
29
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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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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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 ...
26
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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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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 ...
25
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2answers
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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 ...
25
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1answer
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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 ...
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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 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. ...
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Would it have been any more difficult to build the space station without the space shuttle?

I know that the Space Shuttle delivered a lot of modules and supplies to the International Space Station, but I also know that other rockets were just as capable of performing the task at that time ...
23
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1answer
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Why is this part of the Space Shuttle launch pad suspended so high off the ground?

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-107/images/high/KSC-02PD-1894.jpg shows a large part of the launch pad suspended off the ground. What is it for and why is there all that empty space ...
22
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11answers
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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 ...
22
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2answers
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Why were jet engines not used in place of the solid fuel in the STS SRBs?

Considering that there is plenty of oxygen in the air at the altitudes that the SRBs flew to (<50 KM), why did the STS SRBs use solid propellant. Specifically, why use a system that must carry its ...
22
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1answer
8k views

Why did NASA wet the road in front of the Space Shuttle crawler?

In this video, at the 6:25 mark, you can see a truck drive in front of the crawler, spraying water on the gravel ahead of the treads. Why did they do this?
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2answers
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What was the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft escape tunnel?

The Wikipedia article for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft mentions an escape tunnel: The avionics and engines were also upgraded, and an escape tunnel system similar to that used on Boeing's first 747 ...
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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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Do windows in space stations, the space shuttle, other spacecraft have practical usage?

As we know, cars need a front window because drivers need to see the road to control the car, but how about the windows in space shuttles? As far as I know, the orbits of ISS or other space devices ...
20
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1answer
3k views

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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2answers
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What would have happened if Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters didn't separate?

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. ...
20
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2answers
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How was “Space Ram” (instant ramen noodles) prepared and eaten on the Space Shuttle?

The BBC Witness Podcast The Invention of Instant Noodles mentions that "Space Ram" (ramen noodles for space) was developed for eating on the Space Shuttle. After about ...
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2answers
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Can I drink the water from the plumes of SSME?

Shuttle's SSME uses cryogenic Hydrogen(LHX) and Oxygen(LOX) as their propellent to give hot water vapour. If I somehow manage to get the exhaust plume and condense it to liquid, Can I drink it ...
20
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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What are the small gas jets at the rims of the Space Shuttle Main Engines?

As can be seen in close-up footage of SSME ignition, such as the video below, there are small jets of an unknown gas/vapor emanating from specific points around the ...
20
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2answers
571 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 ...
20
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2answers
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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 ...
19
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2answers
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Why were Space Shuttle astronauts able to walk off the orbiter?

I am watching loads of ISS related videos and there is one detail I recently noticed; At the time, when Space Shuttles were still in operation and visiting ISS, when astronauts returned home, they ...
19
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2answers
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How does the Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand work?

This photo instantly provokes a ton of questions in me: It shows the Dynamic Test Stand at Marshall SFC with the Enterprise, which was a Space Shuttle test vehicle, suspended for vibration testing. ...