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Why do we use the shuttle at all?

Posted by: Stefan Sigwarth - Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:34 am
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Why do we use the shuttle at all? 
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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:53 pm
Well, any satellite in low enough orbit to be picked up by the shuttle could be easily de-orbited without the shuttle. Heck, most of them will reenter on their own in a few years unless regularly reboosted. The value of the cargo bay and robot arm is in orbit construction and repair, not debris cleanup. Use as a tug is a possibility, but not a great one, IMO.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:08 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
Yes, we will miss that big cargo bay and robotic arm after the shuttle is retired.

However I don't see any reason to bring Hubble back to Earth. If it needs repair, it is designed to have that done in orbit. If it is to be retired, a special shuttle flight to bring it down intact would just be a waste of money, IMO.


There is a lot of history in the Hubble, and they wanted to mount it in the Air&Space Museum. I can understand and respect that. Still, I think I like Bob's idea better - move the musuem into orbit (That would be Bob Bigelow :D Think of it as the first branch of the Smithsonian thats not actually on this planet)


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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:22 pm
FerrisValyn wrote:
There is a lot of history in the Hubble, and they wanted to mount it in the Air&Space Museum. I can understand and respect that.
Me too, but not for a half a billion dollars, or whatever a shuttle flight costs these days. For that price Virgin Galactic could fly 2,500 people suborbital or Russia could send 25 people to ISS, either of which would be a better use of the money, especially if I was one of the people to fly!

(EDIT) Given either chance at no cost to myself, I would take the suborbital flight since I don't want to learn to speak Russian and don't have 6 months of free time available to complete the required training.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 11, 2006 6:34 am
Hello, Sean Girling,

you are right regarding the return of payloads to the surface via the Shuttle - in particular because it would be a safe return which keeps the possibility to launch one and the same payload into orbit another time which would be repeated use.

There was one mission which was at least similar to a return of apayload by the Shuttle - the Spacelab-mission(s). The Spacelab was carried into orbit and brought back again. This is similar only because the Spacelab never left the cargo bay to be kept in orbit while the Shuttle would have landed - but it was a payload which was brought back to Earth and the cargo bay carried a payload at landing.

It may be that SpaceX's vehicles and t/Space's vehicle may be developed to a point where they can do something like that. And last year there was a russian test of a vehicle that can return small amounts of cargo down to Earth safely - a project ordered by ESA.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:01 pm
FerrisValyn wrote:
I don't believe Nasa has ever used transport and return in a large capacity.
Yes they have. Some quotes from this site follow:
http://setas-www.larc.nasa.gov/LDEF/index.html
Quote:
LDEF had a nearly cylindrical structure, and its 57 experiments were mounted in 86 trays about its periphery and on the two ends. The spacecraft measured 30 feet by 14 feet and weighed ~21,500 pounds with mounted experiments, and remains one of the largest Shuttle-deployed payloads.
Quote:
LDEF was deployed in orbit on April 7, 1984 by the Shuttle Challenger.
Quote:
LDEF remained in space for ~5.7 years and completed 32,422 Earth orbits;
Quote:
LDEF was retrieved on January 11, 1990 by the Shuttle Columbia.

When the shuttle is retired we are going to really miss that capability.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 11, 2006 6:45 pm
Your right - I did totally forget about LDEF. And, you can kinda of consider Spacehab and Spacelab in the same mode of thought.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:21 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
FerrisValyn wrote:
I don't believe Nasa has ever used transport and return in a large capacity.
Yes they have. Some quotes from this site follow:
http://setas-www.larc.nasa.gov/LDEF/index.html
Quote:
LDEF had a nearly cylindrical structure, and its 57 experiments were mounted in 86 trays about its periphery and on the two ends. The spacecraft measured 30 feet by 14 feet and weighed ~21,500 pounds with mounted experiments, and remains one of the largest Shuttle-deployed payloads.
Quote:
LDEF was deployed in orbit on April 7, 1984 by the Shuttle Challenger.
Quote:
LDEF remained in space for ~5.7 years and completed 32,422 Earth orbits;
Quote:
LDEF was retrieved on January 11, 1990 by the Shuttle Columbia.

When the shuttle is retired we are going to really miss that capability.


We will be left with CEV doing laps in LEO and still no CaLV moon missions.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:28 am
campbelp2002 wrote:
When the shuttle is retired we are going to really miss that capability.


I'll bet that the Astronauts whom fly CEV are gonna miss the two-story flight deck with separate sleeping quarters, shower facilities, toilet, etc...


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:54 pm
Heh -- we go from the equivalent of the expensive luxury car that is constantly in the shop to the equivalent of a Yugo. Wonder what the astronaut corps has to say about that (off the record, of course; on record, they're in full support of the idea). As a CXV, I can see it. CEV, on the other hand, deserves to be modular, likely with separate command and living modules.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:24 am
spacecowboy wrote:
Heh -- we go from the equivalent of the expensive luxury car that is constantly in the shop to the equivalent of a Yugo. Wonder what the astronaut corps has to say about that (off the record, of course; on record, they're in full support of the idea). As a CXV, I can see it. CEV, on the other hand, deserves to be modular, likely with separate command and living modules.


If the Soyuz is a Yugo, then the CEV will be a Toyota. And the Shuttle is a, all u can do, 4WD, flat bed truck cum SUV that seats 7. The automotive parallel is rather startling. LEO is like driving around city. If you are just interested in getting around, a simple sedan will do. If you need to cross the interstate, hook a trailer and get going. If you need stuff moved, call the movers, don't do it yourself! :?


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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 16, 2006 6:42 pm
Problem with LEO is that there's literally nowhere to go... Nobody needs a sedan if there's no such thing as a destination. Of course, destinations tend to get built after the highways... Go figure.

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Post    Posted on: Sun May 07, 2006 8:11 pm
No--destinations are made before highways--before railroads.

First you had to have the industrial Northeast, the Cotton Belt, the Bread Basket, and the Gold Rush--the destinations that came about after exploration was done with big ships to start with. Then came the rapid transport after the big transfer of goods by ship. This was the HLLV model Come first, then let us build>

The Build it and they will Come phrase (overused) is a more apt description of the RLV scenario. The Soviets used Rails as a form of exploration. But Trans-Siberian quickly became little but a link to one iced in port--one reindeer town to the next.

Big stations--some pharma results, then fly often after you fly big.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:19 pm
Hmm... I am forced to concede. I was thinking more of special cases such as Atlanta (built because the railroad companies found it to be the most convenient spot to converge the existing lines).

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:02 am
Hello, spacecowboy,

you weren't wrong at all. The origines of the first human settlements were water and food. So they were close to creeks, rivers etc. - but these then turned out to be proper ways of trade and the settlements evolved into places of trade. The same holds for fertile places and regions.

So these first settlements weren't destinations nor places of departure - simply there were no traffic at the beginning. Both the settlements and the traffic evolved in parallel nearly and they are both caused by subjects of Economics, Politics, Biology and the like.

This will hold for the orbit, for planets and space also.

You were completely right.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:02 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
Hmm... I am forced to concede. I was thinking more of special cases such as Atlanta (built because the railroad companies found it to be the most convenient spot to converge the existing lines).


Actually, it was Birmingham that thought that rail was the future--Atlanta invested more in its Airport.

At least B'ham has gridded streets--something Atlanta needed at the beginning. It all looks like Highway 280 outside of B'hams city center--all sprawl--and no planning.


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