Questions tagged [space-shuttle]

Questions about the Space Shuttle and Buran orbiters within the atmosphere when detached from their boosters and tanks. Questions about space are off-topic.

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39 votes
3 answers
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Could the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft do a transatlantic flight with a Space Shuttle orbiter on its back?

Some of the STS backup landing sites were in Europe. Of course, The STS would actually have to fly there only in case of extreme emergency, so the number one priority was just to save the lives of ...
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61 votes
7 answers
32k views

How does the Space Shuttle slow down during re-entry, descent, and landing?

Yesterday, my little brother asked me to help him build his new Space Shuttle Lego set. When we finally finished building it, he started to play with his new toy and asked me to be the "Mission ...
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38 votes
2 answers
6k views

Did the Space Shuttle really wait until 50 feet above the ground before they put the gear down?

I saw a sign at the Smithsonian about the Space Shuttle where it said that their gear was not extended until 50 feet above the ground. I've searched and searched for something definitive that had the ...
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11 votes
2 answers
9k views

What was the Space Shuttle's glide ratio?

The Space Shuttles glided to a landing in the atmosphere after reentry. They were not good gliders, aerodynamically speaking, so their glide slope angle was rather steep. What was the glide ratio of ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Why do the B747 of NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircrafts (SCAs) need additional vertical stabilizer?

Here is picture of B747 SCA of NASA and the AN-225 SCA. There are additional vertical stabilizer in the tip of the elevator to the Boeing's, while the AN-225 is designed with the vertical stabilizer ...
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44 votes
3 answers
8k views

Was the Space Shuttle aerodynamically neutral while piggybacking, or did the combination act like a giant biplane?

Trying to investigate this question, I see that 'Ask the Captain' says: The weight of the shuttle is calculated like any payload. The 747 produces enough lift to fly and to carry the weight of ...
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

Was the unmanned flight and landing of the Buran spacecraft in 1988 exceptional?

The Buran had a very sad fate. But in 1988 it has undertaken its first and last flight, which was unmanned and landed with a precision of three meters in a crosswind of 60 km per hour. It lost only 8 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
746 views

Did the Space Shuttle boat tail used in the transport configuration save fuel?

During the testing phase as well as during transport of the Space Shuttle on top of a 747, a boat tail was used: Source Here I found that this was mainly to reduce the turbulence that would strike ...
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28 votes
1 answer
5k views

Why did the space shuttle use bias-ply tyres instead of radials?

Aircraft and automobile tyres can be divided into two main types, based on the orientation of the tyres’ body plies (the layers of tough fabric that form the main structural body of the tyre); radial ...
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22 votes
3 answers
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Was the Shuttle Orbiter in contact with air traffic control during its descent & landing?

The Shuttle Orbiter crew were obviously in contact with ground control in Houston during their landing, but were they also in contact with any air traffic control, especially once they reached US ...
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20 votes
3 answers
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Why would landing the space shuttle on water have been unsurvivable?

For an aircraft unable to reach a runway on land, ditching in water is a common and, generally, highly-survivable option; however, for the space shuttle, according to Wikipedia, "...an ocean ditching ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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Was the Space Shuttle landing sequence executed manually or automatically?

I was motivated by another SE Aviation Question where the complex set of manouveres needed to land the space shuttle is described to ask the following question: Is the landing handled manually or is ...
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12 votes
1 answer
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Does NASA use T-38's to train all crew members of a space flight as pilots?

Did all NASA flight crew recruits learn to fly when preparing for Space Shuttle missions? Obviously, the pilot — and I am guessing the commander, too — would be USAF / USN / USMC pilots, but what ...
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3 votes
1 answer
516 views

How useful would the space shuttle OMS actually be in atmosphere?

When speaking of space shuttle landings, they always mention that it is "very poor glider, with one shot, no go-arounds." Of course this is true; however, if the Shuttle found itself in a situation ...
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