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Space Shuttle - Good or Bad


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In the spirit of starting some threads on real space hardware, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to see what people think about the legacy of the Space Shuttle programme.

Having read quite a bit about the whole background to the concept and the politics behind getting it approved - followed by the struggles NASA had in keeping it operational - not to mention the fact that it killed 14 astronauts - my overall feeling is that the Space Shuttle was a bit of a disaster for American manned spaceflight.

I was wondering what others might think.

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HI ERIC, well theres a subject to ponder,the whole point of the said shuttle,was to make space visits quicker/easier,it seemed to get bogged down right at the start,i personally think,if they had spent the shuttle money,onsome real/proven hardware,i think the americans would have inhabited the moon 20 years ago?.even if they had spent the money on the dynasaur program,i think that would of progressed further than thirty years of the shuttle,which to be honest didnt evolve at all?,,

Apollo,was proven,even if a bit expensive as a throwaway tech.but i even read recently that a saturn 5 engine recovered at the time was designed to be re-usable,i seen a photo of it being cleaned of sea water ready for testing.So i think,with some brains and money,apollo would have progressed to,and well beyond the lifting capabilities of any thing planned,so far,so going by that by the late eighties,early ninetie,s,we would have been mining the moon for helium etc,as per the plans at the time..

So really i think the shuttle programme was a total waste,of human and financial resources,it was nice to see it in the early days,just for the joy of knowing what that tech could of progressed to,but alas it never,went anywhere really,i mean whats it really remembered for,1-disaster 2-probably the hubble capture/repair, 3-??????, Even the russian version planned a manouvering engine,/re entry engine.

To me it was the most expensive satellite launcher ever designed,but it did keep americans employed,which is probably why it went for so long?

whats your view on that,?

frontcover_zpsd886a3ee.png

the logo,s good...

cheers Don

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100% agree. The Shuttle turned out to be a blind alley. It was the worst of both worlds, not fully reusable enough to fulfill its operator's needs and sufficiently NOT reusable enough and fragile to make it very expensive to operate.

If the Saturn production line (both the 1B and the V and the associated rocket motors) had been kept going, economies of scale would have kicked in and the overall launch cost of using such vehicles would have come down. The cost of building a single Saturn V when you manufacture 16 of the things is a lot more expensive per rocket compared to when you build 200 of them.

And, if they had continued to use this technology over the decades, I am sure elements of the Saturn system could have been made reusable - such as the F1 rocket motors of the first stage - or perhaps the first stage entirely. I am also sure that a modern Apollo Command Module would also be fully reusable and lighter.

Using Saturn V technology, the International Space Station could have been put into orbit with a handful of launches in a year or two - instead of 30 plus launches over a decade.

Edited by Eric Mc
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Don't forget about the time when it was designed and built - late seventies. The peak of the Cold War, Afghanistan, "Star Wars" etc. It is not a secret that the whole programme although executed by NASA was heavily influenced by MOD. Soviet Union had to respond with "Buran" programme that was so expensive that the soviet economy failed and the union broke up (it was not the only reason, of course, but a serious contributor). Once it happened the Shuttle become obsolete - ISS could be built without it.

Technically the programme is a failure (so is Buran) as it did not achieve its cost of launch objectives, politically it is total and utter success

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HI,pin,

not sure your right there in your statement ,it acheived its objectives,it never got anywhere nearing them imho,no where near,as for the soviets,they had burned them selves out long before the shuttle,it was just a matter of time,the sole purpose of the shuttle program it seems was to kill russian sats/ missiles,in orbit granted,but time has shown,they would have just diverted skills to a lot more sub-orbital missiles etc,and then the us space program,would become nonsensical imo.As we see now,by the build up of short range launchers,etc now,

The whole shuttle concept was sold to the world,as Pan-AM,for space/world travel,then was hijacked for political/dod areas,then it started to lose the publics favour,if it had started,and gone on,as its stated aims,cheap reuable,regular,daily/weekly flights,in my opinion it would have kept favour and investment,and we certainly would of been mining the moon,by now or very close?

but hey,thats politicians/money for you?

cheers Don,........so basically, what i meant to say was, a total and utter success? what planet/moon are you on?lol :hobbyhorse:

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It was not sold as a space "Pan Am" to me as I was on the other side of the Iron Curtain where we considered it as weapon and nothing but weapon. From what I read about the programme it was quite clear by the beginning on 80-ties that it would never be that "cheap reusable,regular,daily/weekly flights" but it was a. too big to abandon and b. worked well in the context of SDI bluffing.

As to "killing orbital sats / missiles" - much more than just that. Have you ever heard about "orbital dive", for example?

The page below shows some of "Buran" applications - the page is in Russian but there are animated GIFs that make the things clear

http://www.buran.ru/htm/spirit.htm

It was believed that Shuttle could do the same things.

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HI,i think i read somewhere the soviet missile laser,was just a factory mockup,and never real?,but hey ho,thats superpowers for you,you never get the full story,i honestly believe if the british,had kept their wartime zest up,in the austerity of the fifties,and persued there paper ambitions,the us/soviets,would now be flying british ,or british based designs,of sub orbital/orbital reusable planes,theres quite a few which with a government backing would im sure,of acheived,in the sixties what nasa was still failing to do in the late nineties,even after billions upon billions,of funding.but im afraid we cannot turn back time,unfortunatly and we as a planetry community,very nearly??,are just starting to realise,that to go forward in this universe,we are going to have to adopt a star trek mentality,as a one planet,federation,money means nothing approach?,to do anything like what our brains are imagining,i think we are starting to realise that,i just dont think i will see it,before i pop my little clogs,mores the pity?But look on the bright side Virgin,s doing good,

cheers, Don

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Depends what you measure the success on, the Shuttle has it successes, but it's main aim was as a low-cost manned delivery platform, and in that respect it has failed. I feel that Nasa itself is the failure rather than the space shuttle. the organisation has just become so vast and cumbersome, and has lost it's ability to progress new frontiers like the mercury, gemini, apollo programs. The political landscape changed at the same time, and gave no direction for the shuttle program. There is the ISS which is a great achievement, but came too late, took far too long to build, and has not really covered much beyond what MIR had already achieved. It's ironic that the Soyuz rocket which was old technology when the shuttle was started, is today the primary transport for shuttling crew and cargo to the ISS.

Paul

Edited by paulj
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But then again,why spend all this money now and in the future,when they have a system that works now,albeit expensive,to do the work that needs to be done now,..and then proceed with ideas,but still doing what they need to do,???

transportlaunch_zps57dcf63f.png

dont get me wrong.......please...we would all change things,but larger powers have different agenda,s which us as mere mortal,s are not privvy to,or need to know?its just so annoying at times,when with hindsight,things could be so different,and then the same mistakes are made over and over again.

so what,do you think would have been the way to go,either before the shuttle or after,please bear in mind eric started this thread under the banner of the shuttle good or bad,i think thats a bit of a non-starter myself,but what are you measuring the shuttle on?

curious Don.

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Well, evidently there will be no further attempts to put something as big and heavy as SS on the orbit for a time being - it proved to be too expensive, I also think the concept of aerial launch for orbital flight is dead. I think further reusable spacecrafts will be much smaller - the size of X-37 or smaller - launched atop of a conventional rocket with potentially reusable boosters.

Aerial launch will be used for suborbital flights - amusement or point to point travel.

No breakthrough for the nearest 20-30 years.

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Part of the problem with the Shuttle was that the Air Force demanded that it have a landing crossrange of 1,000 miles. This was so that it could be launched from Vandenberg into a polar orbit, deploy a spy satellite and land back at Vandenberg one or two orbits later, even though the rotation of the Earth would have moved the launch site eastwards. The Air Force built SLC-6 specifically for the Shuttle, and the crew for the first flight (STS-62A) had been chosen: Bob Crippen would have been in command. Then Challenger happened and the Air Force pulled out, leaving NASA with an over-developed white elephant.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367857/US-intercepted-Russian-cosmonaut-Vladimir-Komarovs-final-words-rage.html

Space and politics have always gone hand in hand. The United States is not immune to this (the race to the moon comes to mind) and have lost men but due to accidents but the safey of its astronaunts always came first. The USSR/ Russia on the other hand had lost a hell a lot more men over the years ( many been covered up ) since they launched Yuri Gagarin into space. The above article is typical of why and the way so many cosmonauts died. It is cold comforted that at least the shuttle deaths were accidents rather then what the soviets did sending men they knew they were going to die in defective equipment all in the name of propaganda.

The shuttle system in theory would have worked but it was badly flawed and executed. I feel throw away systems should be of the past and we must move forward with systems that would make man flight easier. I feel we need in orbit only ship that would take astronauts/cosmonauts to and from the moon or even Mars more then once. Docked at the ISS the crew would launch from earth, meet the ISS/ship combo in orbit then launch from there. The ship would not enter any atmosphere and would be refurbish after each mission. Sea based ships on earth do this all the time with age being the only factor why they are decommissioned. This way we can proved the crew with a ship large enough to hold supplies,repair parts, and need be some sort of escape system that would return them back to earth. Fanciful l agree but it will be the wave of the future someday as this is how future private companies would get miners to the moon or asteroids to mine them for iron and other raw materials

my thoughts and two cents :coat:

upon further research it known that on both sides over 50 people have died in space accidents

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HI ERIC, well theres a subject to ponder,the whole point of the said shuttle,was to make space visits quicker/easier,it seemed to get bogged down right at the start,i personally think,if they had spent the shuttle money,onsome real/proven hardware,i think the americans would have inhabited the moon 20 years ago?.even if they had spent the money on the dynasaur program,i think that would of progressed further than thirty years of the shuttle,which to be honest didnt evolve at all?,,

cheers Don

The shuttle was an attempt to commercialise space, it's debatable if it did. I remember reading in the early '70s that the space shuttle primary objective was for quick turnarounds of space missions, which it seemed patently incapable of doing, A base on the moon is also debatable and would have been prohibitively expensive to maintain with no clear benefit. The space programme was doomed from when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the and public interest waned from that point in time.

Whilst Apollo as thought of expensive, in 1969 the US public spent more on cosmetics that year than was ploughed into the space programme that year. There are huge dichotomy's here, but thought provoking none the less.

Marty...

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now come on,over 50 fifty have died,are we counting launch pad failures here or what,?are you counting testing,as well?come on exploration,new technology always brings a human cost to the table,it cannot be helped,next you will tell me firemen dont die in fires,its part and parcel of life,dont think an argument over how many is productive,to any one,....but saying that i did read about some brothers in italy,i think recording some astronauts dying words and was covered up,so its not all in the open,by a long way?,though not productive to a discussion,imho

don

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http://www.space.com/11353-human-spaceflight-deaths-50-years-space-missions.html

http://www.jamesoberg.com/usd10.html

http://members.shaw.ca/kcic1/disasters.html

Just remember during the soviet era it was common practice to cover up everything so any deaths of cosmonauts was also common practice. A lot of it is only coming to light now.

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There have been rumours about cosmonauts being lost before Gagarin's flight, but every single launch has been identified and shown to be unmanned. If you want a simple proof that Gagarin's flight was the first manned attempt, then bear in mind that the Soviet authorities announced the launch while he was still in orbit. If they had lost cosmonauts on previous failed missions, they would certainly have waited until he was safely back before releasing the news.

Discounting air crashes, the Soviets lost one man in training (Bondarenko, who died of burns following a pressure-chamber accient) and four in flight (Komarov, plus the Soyuz 11 crew). The Americans, of course, lost three in training and fourteen in flight.

See here for details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Cosmonauts

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It's often forgotten that two pad workers were killed in the run up to the launch of the first Space Shuttle flight in 1981. They were overcome and suffocated by nitrogen gas when working on the pad a few weeks before the launch.

The Soviets had a massive disaster when a rocket being prepared for a launch to Mars exploded on the pad, killing around 100.

The Chinese also had a massive disaster when a rocket crashed onto a village, killing hundreds.

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The Soviets had a massive disaster when a rocket being prepared for a launch to Mars exploded on the pad, killing around 100.

Your information is not quite accurate.

I'm aware of two accidents that caused deaths of more than ten people - R-16 "Nedelin Disaster" that is not related to Space programme, and Plesetsk accident in 1980. Neither were related to Mars.

There was an unsuccessful launch attempt to the Moon in 1958 when R-7 rocket exploded soon after lift off but there were no fatalities.

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I think my "Mars" reference was based on ancient speculation I'd dredged up from the nether regions of my brain - so a bit woolly to say the least. I might have read it "Red Star in Orbit" by James Oberg way back in 1982 as I think he mentioned the Nedelin explosion as being a "Mars Mission". But a lot of clarification has emerged since those days.

Rockets are dangerous beasts and even the most safety conscious and meticulous regime can still slip up and have an accident.

Having said all that, I am currently re-reading "Challenger - A Major Malfunction" by Malcolm McConnell. This book was published the year after the Challenger accident and is still one of the best accounts of the background leading up to the disaster.

Some NASA officials should have gone to jail - in my opinion.

Edited by Eric Mc
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  • 3 weeks later...

In the spirit of starting some threads on real space hardware, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to see what people think about the legacy of the Space Shuttle programme.

Having read quite a bit about the whole background to the concept and the politics behind getting it approved - followed by the struggles NASA had in keeping it operational - not to mention the fact that it killed 14 astronauts - my overall feeling is that the Space Shuttle was a bit of a disaster for American manned spaceflight.

I was wondering what others might think.

The Space Shuttle had retired.

I don't care if people have their good or bad options of the Space Shuttle, I don't care if people thinks it is a waste of money, I don't care if people thinks it is the best thing, I don't care if people thinks it should be grounded for good, I don't care if people thinks it should stay in service.

I respect the 14 ones who died, for the families and friends of the 14 who lose their lives, my apologise, and my thoughts with you, but we do get car crashes, we do have accidents at home, a lot of things can just happen and we can get killed, we died in car crashes, train crashes, etc., etc., it is just life. It is my understanding that from what I read, those 14 knew they were taking a risk, but they went ahead anyway. Even if you could make the Space Shuttle 100% safer, there would be still some way an accident would happen. Okay so a couple of Space Shuttles blew up, but it would still happened sooner or later.

Whatever people thinks of the Space Shuttle, good or bad, cheap or expensive, safe or dangers, useful or unless...

the Space Shuttle had retired and will now be in history books, each of the last Shuttles had done their duty, she had done her jobs, let her have her rest. Forget debating the pros and cons of the Space Shuttle, debating on the pros and cons won't help improve the Shuttles as they're retried.

I love the Space Shuttles but they have done their work and let them have their rests.

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