# The Shuttle Launch....

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#### Topaz

##### Super Moderator
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Beautiful. Shame we're tossing them aside.

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
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It's impressive, no doubt. I've been fortunate enough in my life to have seen the launch very close (from the VIP viewing area - as close as you can get without being part of the crew), and a landing very, very close. Standing next to the approach end runway hold short line at Edwards, it was still a few feet AGL as it passed us not more than a few hundred feet distant.

Lot's of money though. I can't help thinking the taxpayers were sold a bill of goods, considering it never even came close to meeting the cost, turn time, or payload requirements. The cheap access to space we taxpayers thought we were getting just turned out to be another very, very expensive flying club.

##### Moderator
Lot's of money though. I can't help thinking the taxpayers were sold a bill of goods, considering it never even came close to meeting the cost, turn time, or payload requirements. The cheap access to space we taxpayers thought we were getting just turned out to be another very, very expensive flying club.
1.5 Billion US$/launch. Better to outsource it to commercial operators. For that budget, you can do 23 launches with a Soyuz/Ariane and achieve a whole lot more for the same amount of money. Let's hope space travel is finally looked at from a commercial vs a political perspective. #### Nickathome ##### Well-Known Member 1.5 Billion US$/launch.
Better to outsource it to commercial operators. For that budget, you can do 23 launches with a Soyuz/Ariane and achieve a whole lot more for the same amount of money. Let's hope space travel is finally looked at from a commercial vs a political perspective.
I'd rather we have a space vehicle than have to rely on the Russians or anyone else! I say scale the shuttle program back until we get a viable replacement, not totally shut off the only source we currenlty have to get to space. I think we are being very stupid doing this. We are just opening the doors for China and India and whomever else to take away our space capabilites. Stupid move on the part of our government.

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
I'd rather we have a space vehicle than have to rely on the Russians or anyone else! I say scale the shuttle program back until we get a viable replacement, not totally shut off the only source we currenlty have to get to space. I think we are being very stupid doing this. We are just opening the doors for China and India and whomever else to take away our space capabilites. Stupid move on the part of our government.
I bet those shuttles are pretty worn out. How many flights on them? The vibration, acceleration, heat and all must take a terrific toll. Better to talk to the French about licensing the Ariane or something for manufacture and use in the US. Cheaper and much less shameful than running a shuttle until it kills everyone in it.

Dan

##### Moderator
I'd rather we have a space vehicle than have to rely on the Russians or anyone else! I say scale the shuttle program back until we get a viable replacement, not totally shut off the only source we currenlty have to get to space. I think we are being very stupid doing this. We are just opening the doors for China and India and whomever else to take away our space capabilites. Stupid move on the part of our government.
Both Ariane and Soyuz are fully operational, so there is competition and both are capable of lifting a manned capsule to space (23 tonnes to LEO for the Ariane I think).

But there's another side. By not having a space shuttle, there is a drive for commercial designs as we're seeing now already. Having the government pay for your product development is the best way to get rid of all competition. Outsource any launch possible and the market will grow quickly and prices will drop a lot, saving a lot of money in the end.

#### 142yx

##### Well-Known Member
We are just opening the doors for China and India and whomever else to take away our space capabilites. Stupid move on the part of our government.
We now have the X-37 which handles our military access to space and meets the requirements that were originally added to the shuttle that changed its scope from the simple, truly reusable vehicle it was supposed to be. The shuttle was awesome from a technology / engineering / aviation standpoint, but i am glad we are ending the program. IMHO, the trivial science projects and international handshakes in space for a privileged few dont justify the billions of dollars spent. Better pass human access to space to the commercial sector, governments will never make it possible for the rest of us to get to space.

#### Topaz

##### Super Moderator
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I bet those shuttles are pretty worn out. How many flights on them? The vibration, acceleration, heat and all must take a terrific toll. Better to talk to the French about licensing the Ariane or something for manufacture and use in the US. Cheaper and much less shameful than running a shuttle until it kills everyone in it.

Dan
The shuttles were designed for a 100 flight service life. If I'm not mistaken, Discovery is the high-time orbiter at (now) 36 launches. They're not even half-way through their design lives.

The issues aren't economics - there have always been ways to make shuttle launches more economical. The isssue is not just getting people or consumables to the ISS. The shuttle carries a lot of people and bulky, outsized cargo to the ISS and, more importantly, down from the ISS. Quite literally nothing matches that capability, at any price, excepting the long-retired Russian/Soviet Buran system.

The issue is, and always was, politics. The various administrations since the end of Apollo have successively gutted the program, taking it from an all-reusable vehicle during the original studies to the current stage-and-half semi-reusable vehicle it is now, and not providing funding for the programs that would make the system less expensive to use. And once Columbia was lost, with all her crew, through yet another failure of the management process at NASA (just like Challenger), the politicians killed the program to prevent accident that could expose them to political liability.

The STS (Shuttle program) is something we can afford, can improve, and has no comparable capability anywhere, at any price. It's being killed for political expediency, and political expediency alone.

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#### DarylP

##### Well-Known Member
So what about the view from an aircraft?

#### Dana

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
I have mixed feelings about it. The Shuttle was, and is, a dumb design. Yes, it's also a brilliant design in some ways. It was originally designed for one purpose: to put the components of the then planned Mars mission into orbit. The Mars mission was scrapped, of course, but NASA managed to salvage the shuttle. I was still in school, studying aerospace engineering, when it made the first glide tests. The entire department gathered in one room to watch it on video; it was an exciting time. But I remember saying to one of my professors, "thousands of tiles, all different, and just glued on? That's ridiculous!? He just sadly shook his head and said, "I know, I know..."

NASA was supposed to be a research and development organization, leading the way, not an aerial trucking company flying obsolete equipment. NASA needs another Apollo project, and leave the freight hauling to commercial outfits... even if, as unfortunately seems likely these days, the pilots aren't speaking English.

-Dana

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors-- and miss.

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
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...and not providing funding for the programs that would make the system less expensive to use...
...More funding to make the program cheaper... OK, you lost me on that one.

Anyway, whatever the cause, it has failed in its fundamental mission: cheap, frequent access to space. The government has proven their ineptitude once again - and I think it's time to turn "access to space" over to the private sector. If there is a need (defined as "profit"), the private sector will find it.

##### Moderator
The issues aren't economics - there have always been ways to make shuttle launches more economical. The isssue is not just getting people or consumables to the ISS. The shuttle carries a lot of people and bulky, outsized cargo to the ISS and, more importantly, down from the ISS. Quite literally nothing matches that capability, at any price, excepting the long-retired Russian/Soviet Buran system.
I've always wondered why you would send so much "stuff" up. One of the basics of Tsiolkovsky is that the payload/fuel ratio is extremely small. Carrying up a complete shuttle leads to 3 times more rocket compared to the Ariane/Soyuz and thus a huge amount of extra cost.

Shuttle: Payload Bay dimensions: 15 ft by 60 ft (4.6 m by 18.3 m) and 24 tonnes (Wikipedia)
Ariane 5: 4.5m by 18m and 21 tonnes (SMAD by Wertz and Larson)

So except for the shape (the Ariane is round), I doubt there's much different in payload limitations.
The STS (Shuttle program) is something we can afford, can improve, and has no comparable capability anywhere, at any price.
What can the space shuttle do that other ships cannot?

#### DarylP

##### Well-Known Member
I sent the link to this video to my 14 year old grandson and his reply was: "That is so cool!"

The younger ones see the beauty and awe of the technology, rather than the price or politics of it. That being said, it would be interesting to go ahead 40 plus years to see what that generation will see heading into the sky.

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
Loosing the Shuttle program is just like everything else on society, accept the crap when the good gets expensive. The problems with the Shuttle program was they put all the eggs in one basket when they should have been using normal rockets for what they do best, and letting it live too long without a replacement. We have treated the Shuttle like we treat our infastructure, use it until it crumbles and then patch it because we cant replace it because we have no money. It should have been just another stepping stone to the next better thing, but now we are back to using 60's tools from Russia! We are just letting the US fold in on its self because there is no national go anymore.

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
I sent the link to this video to my 14 year old grandson and his reply was: "That is so cool!"

The younger ones see the beauty and awe of the technology, rather than the price or politics of it...
That's because the young are not burdened with taxes and are unconcerned about "adult" topics like "return on investment"... That's why childhood is generally the best time of your life - stuff is cool, and you don't care why... It just is.