Pressures, as on the external surface of the space shuttle. I want to design my own functioning space shuttle (on an extremely fundamental level with consideration of only the external structure, nowhere close to the real thing) and would like to run a wind tunnel test on it, and I wanted to know what pressures a space shuttle can withstand in order to design my own spacecraft to match and potentially exceed those values.

I appreciate any help that anybody can give me, even if it happens to be some advice, constructive criticism, or the answer to my question.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This might be a question for Space Exploration $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2020 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ @CatchAsCatchCan They don't allow DIY rocketry. Of course, the problem is solved if the reference to building a spacecraft is deleted. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2020 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


The Shuttle Crew Operations Manual has basic information which might answer your question. Starting on page 799 (section 4.3) you'll find Airspeed Limitations.

During ascent the dynamic pressure limit is 819 psf. The limit is based on thermal protection constraints, rather than other structural concerns.

During entry, the dynamic pressure limit varies by velocity. The limit is based on stability (controllability) constraints.

Entry qbar limits

During a Return to Launch Site (RTLS) abort, the allowed limits were a bit higher:

RTLS qbar limits

Page 1002 has a graph showing typical Ascent dynamic pressure:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Good bot, good bot. Wouldn't have seen it otherwise :) $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Feb 26, 2021 at 10:42

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