Amazing achievement and legacy?  
I think that the Shuttle program doesn't get the credit it deserves? In fact the Shuttle (for all its failings) has been a quite phenomenal achievement. I realise that as a concept it hasn't quite worked out, but surely that's part of it's success!?
Amazing achievement and legacy?
I think that the Shuttle program doesn't get the credit it deserves? In fact the Shuttle (for all its failings) has been a quite phenomenal achievement. I realise that as a concept it hasn't quite worked out, but surely that's part of it's success!?
Asked by: auspicious
Category: Human Achievement

Asked on: 25th Feb. 2011
Ending on: 6th Apr. 2011


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  3   :: Suggestion by An5w3r5 on 25th February 2011

I love the Shuttle program, it was a great concept, just didn't really work out the way that it was planned.

I think what they should have done was simplify the concept, and reorganise the Orbiter/ External Tanks/ Boosters.

What would work better I think is;

  • 1) Have a larger main stage with it's own large engines at the bottom.
  • 2) Solid rockets can largely stay the same, but with the ability to attach 2/4 or maybe even 6 as required.
  • 3) On top of the main stage have a cargo module - essentially a shuttle cargo bay, but totally separate.
  • 4) Have a much smaller crew vehicle on top, this reusable section can return the crew and only a small amount of cargo.

A number of differently sized cargo sections could be used depending on the mission. The crew "mini-shuttle" section is responsible for all manoeuvring of the cargo section while in orbit. The cargo section is discarded after the mission and the shuttle glides back to the earth as the current shuttle does.

The mini-shuttle can simply transport crew only to and from the Space Station on a light weight lift set up (no boosters). Or take large cargo on it's own (with the addition of it's own guidance and manoeuvring system), or both.

In addition a mini-shuttle could be used as a Space Station escape craft.

I think that would be awesome...

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  1   :: Comment by jamsgra [m] on 27th February 2011

It sounds quite a lot like the Ares/ Orion set up for NASA's (now defunct) Constellation program. But I think they took your thought process a few steps further:

  • 1) They split the crew/ cargo sections and put them on their own launch stages, I believe this allowed greater flexibility and safety (humans on smaller rockets)

  • 2) They went with a capsule/ parachute system because I believe firstly it's most practical set up to put on top of a rocket and the parachute return is simple, safe, cheap and reliable.

I would have loved to see the Constellation program returning to the moon, that would have been amazing. Such a shame that it got cancelled.

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  2   :: Suggestion by bug_sy on 27th February 2011

Check out this incredible image of the Shuttle approaching the ISS.

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  1   :: Comment by jamsgra [m] on 27th February 2011

Wow, I wish that I could take pictures like that.

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