Space shuttle

Dan Osterrath do3 at
Wed Feb 5 13:41:56 PST 2003

Hash: SHA1

> Simply enough fuel to reach ISS would suffice.

The shuttle had fuel for a maximum of angle correction of 3°. But they had to 
change its angle for about 20° and lift up higher. You can imagine how much 
more fuel they had to take with. And even mass is limited.
If you want to go to ISS you have to take a diffferent start route. A later 
correction is not possible mit the shuttle. You would have to redesign a 
shuttle. (for more than a billion of dollars)

> Or how about a low-orbit fuel storage reservoir (I dont know if that is
> practical, though).

That's what the ISS will become when its ready in 2006. (OK, let's estimate 
tha date laterm, now.)

> Very true. however, I would be willing to bet that there is SOMETHING
> that could be done to at least improve the odds of re-entry survival.

Yes, there's one solution. To break the shuttle in space already by breaking 
thrusters. But this would need as much fuel as id needed for the start. You 
can imagine how much this would be when you look at the shuttle rocket which 
is full of fuel for the start only.

> Better still, though - give the shuttle the ability to reach something
> safe, like ISS. then the thing can stay IN ORBIT (with astronauts living
> on ISS) until a replacement (or replacements) can be flown up.

This is not possible with the existing shuttles. You would have to create a 
totally new shuttle.

> OOI, I assume that a certain amount of the tiles is ablated on re-entry.
> what sort of percentage?

This depends on the position of the blocks. There are some critical positions. 
(for example around the wheels)

> materials science has moved on a LOT since the shuttle was designed -
> perhaps we even have some fabrics that could be affixed somehow. or a
> heat-resistant foam that could be sprayed into the damaged area.

I think you have been watching StarTrek for a too long time. :-)
The prof I was listening researched in Stuttgart in the field of thermal 
shield for about 10 years. He said that there are newer materials but they 
are some kind of impracticable.

> The Russian soyuz seems to be a far simpler device. Simple can be good.

This is not as flexible as the shuttle. And it's a one-way system - you can 
not reuse it. So there will be more of the space waste that probably damaged 
the shuttle also. (This it what the NASA also sees as a reason.)

> No, I think NASA and the government it struggles under both have a lot
> to answer for in this case. NASA need to say 'NO! it cannot be done
> safely'. The government needs to wise up.
> I have every respect for the work done by nasas scientists and
> engineers. The respect ends with the people who control how the tech is
> deployed. Their attitudes stink.

The problem is simply money. You would have to create a new shuttle for 
billions of dollars or use the existing that have been designed for 100 

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