Space Shuttle

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**Design and Development**:
– The concept of a reusable piloted glider for military operations was proposed by the US Air Force in the 1950s.
– Collaboration between NASA and the Air Force led to the development of lifting bodies for aerodynamic testing in the early 1950s.
– A joint study in 1966 between NASA and the Air Force concluded the need for a partially reusable vehicle.
NASA announced plans for a reusable shuttle in 1968 and initiated the Space Shuttle Task Group for design determination.
– A report in 1969 outlined three classes of future reusable shuttle designs.

**Development Process**:
– Contracts were awarded to North American Rockwell, Martin Marietta, and Morton Thiokol for the construction of the orbiter, external tank, and solid-rocket booster.
– The first orbiter, Enterprise, underwent Approach and Landing Tests at Edwards AFB.
– Columbia conducted the first Space Shuttle mission, STS-1, in April 1981.
– After additional test flights, STS-4 declared the Space Transportation System operational.
– Responsibilities for Shuttle components were divided among multiple NASA field centers.

**Specifications and Operations**:
– The Space Shuttle was 56.1m (184ft) tall with a diameter of 8.7m (29ft) and a mass of 2,030,000kg (4,480,000lb).
– It had a projected lifespan of 100 launches or ten years.
– The Space Shuttle fleet conducted 135 missions from 1981 to 2011, launching satellites, probes, and participating in ISS construction.
– The project cost was US$211 billion in 2012, with a cost per launch of US$450 million in 2011.
– The Space Shuttle was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and used the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for transportation after landing.

**Innovations and Milestones**:
– The Space Shuttle used ceramic tiles for its thermal protection system to enable reusability.
– Solid-propellant boosters were chosen to reduce costs and ease refurbishment.
– The RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engine faced delays during development.
– Rockwell began construction of the first orbiter, OV-101, in 1974.
– Enterprise was designed as a test vehicle and underwent testing at Edwards AFB.

**Systems and Technologies**:
– The Space Shuttle was equipped with an avionics system, including various systems for control and navigation.
– The Data Processing System (DPS) controlled flight controls, thrusters, and other components.
– The Shuttle utilized communication systems like S band radios and a K band radar for rendezvous.
– The Inertial Navigation System (INS) combined inertial measurement units with GPS for improved location accuracy.
– Upgrades included AP-101S computers, PASS software, and the Backup Flight System for enhanced control and redundancy.

Space Shuttle (Wikipedia)

The Space Shuttle is a retired, partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space Transportation System (STS), taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft where it was the only item funded for development.

Space Shuttle
Discovery lifts off at the start of the STS-120 mission.
FunctionCrewed orbital launch and reentry
Country of originUnited States
Project costUS$211 billion (2012)
Cost per launchUS$450 million (2011)
Height56.1 m (184 ft)
Diameter8.7 m (29 ft)
Mass2,030,000 kg (4,480,000 lb)
Payload to low Earth orbit (LEO)
(204 km (127 mi))
Mass27,500 kg (60,600 lb)
Payload to International Space Station (ISS)
(407 km (253 mi))
Mass16,050 kg (35,380 lb)
Payload to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO)
Mass10,890 kg (24,010 lb) with Inertial Upper Stage
Payload to geostationary orbit (GEO)
Mass2,270 kg (5,000 lb) with Inertial Upper Stage
Payload to Earth, returned
Mass14,400 kg (31,700 lb)
Launch history
Launch sites
Total launches135
First flight12 April 1981
Last flight21 July 2011
Boosters – Solid Rocket Boosters
No. boosters2
Powered by2 solid-fuel rocket motors
Maximum thrust13,000 kN (3,000,000 lbf) each, sea level (2,650,000 liftoff)
Specific impulse242 s (2.37 km/s)
Burn time124 seconds
PropellantSolid (ammonium perchlorate composite propellant)
First stage – Orbiter + external tank
Powered by3 RS-25 engines located on Orbiter
Maximum thrust5,250 kN (1,180,000 lbf) total, sea level liftoff
Specific impulse455 s (4.46 km/s)
Burn time480 seconds
PropellantLH2 / LOX
Type of passengers/cargo

The first (STS-1) of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights (STS-5) beginning in 1982. Five complete Space Shuttle orbiter vehicles were built and flown on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. They launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Operational missions launched numerous satellites, interplanetary probes, and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), conducted science experiments in orbit, participated in the Shuttle-Mir program with Russia, and participated in the construction and servicing of the International Space Station (ISS). The Space Shuttle fleet's total mission time was 1,323 days.

Space Shuttle components include the Orbiter Vehicle (OV) with three clustered Rocketdyne RS-25 main engines, a pair of recoverable solid rocket boosters (SRBs), and the expendable external tank (ET) containing liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The Space Shuttle was launched vertically, like a conventional rocket, with the two SRBs operating in parallel with the orbiter's three main engines, which were fueled from the ET. The SRBs were jettisoned before the vehicle reached orbit, while the main engines continued to operate, and the ET was jettisoned after main engine cutoff and just before orbit insertion, which used the orbiter's two Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines. At the conclusion of the mission, the orbiter fired its OMS to deorbit and reenter the atmosphere. The orbiter was protected during reentry by its thermal protection system tiles, and it glided as a spaceplane to a runway landing, usually to the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC, Florida, or to Rogers Dry Lake in Edwards Air Force Base, California. If the landing occurred at Edwards, the orbiter was flown back to the KSC atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), a specially modified Boeing 747 designed to carry the shuttle above it.

The first orbiter, Enterprise, was built in 1976 and used in Approach and Landing Tests (ALT), but had no orbital capability. Four fully operational orbiters were initially built: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Atlantis. Of these, two were lost in mission accidents: Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003, with a total of 14 astronauts killed. A fifth operational (and sixth in total) orbiter, Endeavour, was built in 1991 to replace Challenger. The three surviving operational vehicles were retired from service following Atlantis's final flight on July 21, 2011. The U.S. relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS from the last Shuttle flight until the launch of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission in May 2020.

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