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82 votes
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If Space Shuttle flies "like a brick", why does it need the wings?

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 (...
bogl's user avatar
  • 10.8k
63 votes
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From this cockpit picture I cannot identify this aircraft. Any ideas?

That is the cockpit of the Shuttle Training Aircraft, a modified Grumman Gulfstream II. Here is higher resolution picture: (Wikipedia) The STA is a "highly modified Gulfstream-2 aircraft," ...
Bianfable's user avatar
  • 55.9k
50 votes
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Why did the space shuttle use bias-ply tyres instead of radials?

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, ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
47 votes
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Why were the Space Shuttle's elevons reversed, early in re-entry?

For an explanation let me first explain hypersonic flow a bit. In super- and hypersonic flow, when a body moves through a fluid what changes foremost is not speed but density. At the high angle of ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar
46 votes
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Was the Space Shuttle aerodynamically neutral while piggybacking, or did the combination act like a giant biplane?

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 ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
45 votes
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What's the point of using T-38 to instill flight proficiency in Space Shuttle pilots?

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 ...
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
  • 73.8k
38 votes

If Space Shuttle flies "like a brick", why does it need the wings?

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 ...
Bret Copeland's user avatar
34 votes
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What is the stall AoA for the space shuttle?

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 ...
Bret Copeland's user avatar
28 votes

Why would landing the space shuttle on water have been unsurvivable?

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 ...
Pilothead's user avatar
  • 20.2k
23 votes
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Why would landing the space shuttle on water have been unsurvivable?

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 ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
21 votes

If Space Shuttle flies "like a brick", why does it need the wings?

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 ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
20 votes
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Would deploying the Space Shuttle's landing gear early have improved safety?

Inflight Crew Escape System At an altitude of about 9,150 meters (30,000 feet), astronauts would pull a handle that turns on the depressurization valve in the crew compartment bulkhead. This ...
user3528438's user avatar
  • 2,910
20 votes

Would deploying the Space Shuttle's landing gear early have improved safety?

What good options would it add? Remember that the Shuttle was a glider, and a spectacularly bad one at that. You say "committed to landing" as if there was any point from re-entry onwards ...
Graham's user avatar
  • 2,404
19 votes
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What pilot certificates were needed to fly the Space Shuttle?

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,...
Farhan's user avatar
  • 29.4k
19 votes

What's the point of using T-38 to instill flight proficiency in Space Shuttle pilots?

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 ...
mewanning's user avatar
  • 191
18 votes

What pilot certificates were needed to fly the Space Shuttle?

@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 ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
17 votes

What was the Space Shuttle's glide ratio?

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 ...
user6035379's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Was the runway upgrade at Mataveri Airport on Easter Island really related to the Lee Correy novel "Shuttle Down"?

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 ...
BSteinhurst's user avatar
13 votes
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Was the unmanned flight and landing of the Buran spacecraft in 1988 exceptional?

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 ...
Bret Copeland's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

What was the Space Shuttle's glide ratio?

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 ...
Notts90's user avatar
  • 3,569
12 votes

Could the Space Shuttle take off like an airplane?

Despite the scene in Moonraker the Shuttle orbiter carried no fuel for the main engines. Further, the orbiter sat nose down on its landing gear, lacked the elevator authority to raise the nose off ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
  • 17.1k
11 votes

If Space Shuttle flies "like a brick", why does it need the wings?

"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". ...
Agent_L's user avatar
  • 1,392
10 votes
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Why was F-18 chosen to escort Space Shuttle Endeavour?

Because it's what they had at the time and it's what the astronauts were flying. Only one of the NASA F/A18's is actually a two seater: The aircraft were obtained from the U.S. Navy between 1984 ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
9 votes

Why were the Space Shuttle's elevons reversed, early in re-entry?

This observation is not unlike what F4 Phantom pilots experience using ailerons at higher AoA slow flight. The downward elevon undoubtedly produces more (adverse yaw) drag. The Shuttle is very low ...
Robert DiGiovanni's user avatar
8 votes

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

Interestingly enough, for the orbiter separation maneuver to work, the Shuttle would need to have a higher lift to weight ratio than the carrier 747. Plenty of people were probably wringing their ...
Robert DiGiovanni's user avatar
8 votes
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Did the space shuttle have a stall warning system (such as a stick shaker)?

The shuttle was not built with this capability. NASA AMES had a project MIDAS intended to improve the shuttle's cockpit information display and management. In its list of problems to address: ...
Pilothead's user avatar
  • 20.2k
8 votes

Was the runway upgrade at Mataveri Airport on Easter Island really related to the Lee Correy novel "Shuttle Down"?

I live on Easter Island and most people here are familiar with this story. The novel DID pique NASA's interest in extending the runway here to accommodate the especially modified 747 that carries the ...
Alexandra Edwards's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Was the Buran space shuttle capable of doing a go-around?

Unlike Space Shuttle, Buran could cary Saturn AL-31 jet engines. The testing version had four such engines and used to take off and then fly under own power during the tests. Hence it so should have ...
h22's user avatar
  • 12.1k

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