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If you're interested in a more visual, and less technical, explanation of Space Shuttle reentry and landing, I gave a talk titled How to Land the Space Shuttle... from Space at the Stack Overflow meetup in October 2016. I didn't notice this question until a couple of days ago, but as someone with an unhealthy obsession with specifically the entry and ...


78

The small wings make it fly like a brick. Without the wings it would fly like a stone. Seriously, you are taking the expression too literally. The Space Shuttle is landing like a glider plane with a (not so good) glide ratio of about 4.5:1 (see What was the Space Shuttle's glide ratio?). No brick would be able to achieve that. Designing the Space ...


50

The procedure for the space shuttle for re-entering the earth's atmosphere is roughly as follows: The shuttle is usually flying upside- down, with the vertical tail facing the earth and nose in the direction of flight. The shuttle first de-orbits by turning 180$^{\circ}$ (in the yaw axis) and firing the thrusters, thus reducing speed, a procedure called ...


48

If you're looking for a definitive source, how about the Shuttle Crew Operations Manual. It's essentially the POH for the Space Shuttle. Secton 2.14-2 says: The landing gear is deployed at 300 ± 100 feet and at a maximum of 312 knots equivalent airspeed (KEAS). Although, the targeted deploy speed was 288 KEAS according to the Normal Procedures section 5....


46

Simply put, for the weight bearing factor bias-ply is a lighter tire, and when building a spaceship weight is the top concern. The reason they were thin and single use also had to do with weight, according to NASA: Weight: Since weight is of extreme importance, the tires are made with a minimum amount of tread to conserve weight, allowing for larger ...


45

What the T-38 airplane provides NASA is currency and proficiency in high performance aircraft operations in a jet which has many of the same characteristics as the shuttle in this respect ie high wing loading, high approach and landing speeds, similar glide descent ratios. The White Rocket is a temperamental and challenging little jet to land and will not ...


44

This podcast with one of the pilots answers just about every question on the shuttle carrier you could have and it's worth a full listen. But to cover the flight dynamics, I would skip to 50:33 minutes, where the pilot states (please note there is no official transcript of the podcast and I typed this as I listened to it, please see the official podcast for ...


41

Short Answer A procedure had been established to return from a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) using the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). The maximum weight that could be ferried from Europe was approx. 87,000 kg, so so weight had to be removed from the orbiter prior to being mated. The SCA had a maximum range, ...


38

As everyone has pointed out, it's a joke. Others have answered the lifting-body question (it didn't meet design requirements), so I just wanted to expand some thoughts on the spirit of the "flying brick" nickname. I suspect whoever came up with the term didn't spend a lot of time analyzing it. However, I think it's significant that the nickname is flying ...


34

As far as I can tell, NASA has never given a straight-forward answer to this question. The theoretical stall AoA is likely in the 33-40° range (see reason for that guess below). However, at operational airspeeds, the orbiter becomes aerodynamically unstable at a lower angle of attack than the stall angle. Therefore, the stall angle never mattered for shuttle ...


28

Yes, it was possible and NASA had a plan. Enterprise was taken on a European tour in 1983, visiting the UK, France, Germany and Italy. To get there, it crossed the Atlantic on the back of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (the converted 747). According to Slate, the range of the SCA was about 1,000 nautical miles so it made refuelling stops at Goose Bay and ...


27

The shuttle lands at 220 mph and would break up. This is 40% faster than airliners with twice the energy to dissipate and the shuttle structure is a great deal lighter. The orbiters were designed to go to space, ending each mission of their 100 mission lives by landing on a smooth runway. Airliners are designed for forty to a hundred thousand landings or ...


22

Well, sort of. The Kennedy Space Center, where the shuttle operations were conducted, has an ATC. but then, the show was run by NASA, not FAA. The shuttle operations were coordinated through the Aerospace Control Officer (ACO) at the Air Force 45 th Space Wing’s Eastern Range (it used a military TACAN). FAA was informed of the shuttle landing and nothing ...


21

In addition to its poor glide ratio the shuttles name also stems from the materials its made from as much as it does its poor glide performance. The Space Shuttle's heat shield was made out of LI-900 Silica tiles that strongly resemble bricks and thus the shuttle was sometimes called the "Flying Brickyard". If you would like to know why NASA chose a wing ...


20

I flew the T-38 in pilot training. (They ended Vietnam and tossed most of us out before we could finish since they no longer needed pilots. Which also means I am now officially old.) Reasons to use a T-38 for NASA. The T-38 is a HIGH performance aircraft designed to be a to see if trainees could handle that type of plane. And to also emulated performance ...


20

The wiki line provides no citation nor any elaboration but is largely correct. It was found that the orbiter actually had a favorable shape to ditch, The Langley report does state that the Orbiter shape and mass [182] properties are good for ditching, but given the structural problems and deceleration loads, that is little consolation. This was ...


19

Since that's really three questions, I'll address them separately. 1. Did the shuttle have or use autoland? The space shuttle did have autoland capability, in theory. When the shuttle was being developed, it was imagined that flights could last so long that human pilots might get rusty, or have their ability to function under gravity impaired due to muscle ...


18

FAA considers space shuttle either a military aircraft or spacecraft and hence its rules don't apply on space shuttle. However, requirements to be a pilot for a space shuttle are: ... at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft It means that you need type rating to operate a heavy jet aircraft (not light jet). Weight of an empty space ...


17

Non-pilot astronauts are not required to become pilots. They fly in the backseat of T-38's partially for transportation purposes, and partially for flight regime training. They are called "mission specialists" and since their job does not require piloting skills, there is no reason to train them as such. NASA literature says "The T38 is used for flight ...


17

@Farhan covers the NASA requirements but legally, According to the FAA FAR's §460.5 Crew qualifications and training. .... (b) Each member of a flight crew must demonstrate an ability to withstand the stresses of space flight, which may include high acceleration or deceleration, microgravity, and vibration, in sufficient condition to ...


15

The official source says that the landing gear is deployed at around 1700ft AGL, however I suspect an error in that statement. According to the document though, the spaceshuttle has a 1.5 degree glideslope in the short final and around 200kt. In this video the landing gear is extended 18 seconds before the touchdown. 1.5° glideslope equals 2.6% glide path (...


15

As much as I enjoyed reading the novel after reading the Wikipedia article about Mataveri Airport I am somewhat disappointed by my answer. The novel was published in 1980 and the official agreement between the United States and Chile was not signed until 1985 there is circumstantial evidence that the novel did not play a causal role. In Glynn S. Lunney's ...


14

Assuming maximum altitude for the highest blimp is 74,000 feet, and the rail to be angled at 15 degrees, it gives us a rail length of 285,000 feet. The HiSentinel stratospheric airship flew that high, and was able to carry only 36 kg. The steel rail/rope would weigh roughly 5.5 million kg. Based on steel density and a good sized rope, to withstand the ...


13

To initiate the landing process, the shuttle executes a deorbit burn When it is time to return to Earth, the orbiter is rotated tail-first into the direction of travel to prepare for another firing of the orbital maneuvering system engines. This firing is called the deorbit burn. Time of ignition (TIG) is usually about an hour before landing. The burn ...


11

Your question is very subjective, but I think there are two ways to look at it: Building a working space plane is pretty exceptional. or There's really nothing it did that wasn't done by something else. The NASA shuttle was flown in fully-automatic mode for launch, and most of reentry. It's also the vehicle which pioneered the thermal tiles, the reentry ...


11

The Space Shuttle's manual stick mode is called Control Stick Steering (CSS). It commands load factor in pitch (yaw is similar). In pitch it of course accounts for the existing load from vertical deceleration. And rate in roll. When released it holds the attitude. A second submode is indicated airspeed hold (the stick controls speed via the speed brakes), ...


11

"Flies like a brick" is merely a figure of speech. It comes from personal feelings of the pilot when comparing it to an actual plane. It's just like the saying that someone is "dumb as a rock". Obviously, even the most stupid person (or even animal) is much smarter than rock. The saying merely expresses the frustration of the speaker when dealing with a ...


10

The NASA website quotes an approximate ratio of 1 The shuttle was designed with a low L/D ratio (~ 1) because during the descent the spacecraft must be slowed from about 17,300 mph to about 250 mph at landing. (Source) Note that glide ratio is normally equal to the lift to drag ratio - Wikipedia article - Aviation.SE Question


9

As far as I know the space shuttle is no longer in use. However, the glide ratios (more than one in different configurations) can be found on the Wikipedia page: Space Shuttle Wikipedia page. There it states that “The orbiter's maximum glide ratio/lift-to-drag ratio varies considerably with speed, ranging from 1:1 at hypersonic speeds, 2:1 at supersonic ...


9

Source: http://science.howstuffworks.com/space-shuttle7.htm When a mission is finished and the shuttle is halfway around the world from the landing site (Kennedy Space Center, Edwards Air Force Base), mission control gives the command to come home, which prompts the crew to: Close the cargo bay doors. In most cases, they have been flying nose-...


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