The other space shuttles???

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Discovery was launched yesterday, but what about Atlantis and Endeavor??? Anyone know if these shuttles are actually different from Discovery, or are they a carbon-copy??? Why is it the other shuttles were not launched??? Are these shuttles even in service anymore, or are they pretty much monuments on display???
 

Flying Illini

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not sure why Discovery was chosen, maybe they are on a rotation? I would imagine that they are near carbon copies of each other.

side note: I believe Discovery was also the first shuttle to fly after the Challenger disaster.
 

Bluto

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Can't we do better than 30 year old technology? Why are we still relying on these dinosaurs for our space program?
 

Flying Illini

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I don't know the exact date, but they are scheduled for retirement...2010 maybe? If that's true, we'd better start working on a new design and pronto...5 years isn't much time to develop space craft.
 

TheRaven

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Atlantis and Endeavour both started out as all glass cockpits, while Discovery was retrofitted. I believe that Discovery was chosen because it was the shuttle most recently overhauled prior to the Columbia disaster. I think that both of the others are in their respective facilities at the KSC and are both in the rotation for launch.
 

NEDude

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Atlantis is the next scheduled to fly, and Endeavour after that. Just where they happened to be in the rotation, and which one they felt they could get flight ready first.

They are, for the most part, carbon copies of each other with some minor differences.

Of all the orbiters built (not incl Enterprise), Columbia was the most different. It had a lot of test equipment that the later shuttles did not have - most was for the first "test" flights of STS1-4, but it was taken offline in 1984 and 1985 and modified with some additional test equipment, which data from actually aided in the investigation into its demise in '03. The test equipment also made Columbia heavier than the other orbiters and thus less capable for some of the heavier lifting missions and ISS missions.

Some minor improvements were made to each successive orbiter, with the older ones being modified at various times.

Endeavour was built mostly from spare parts as the replacement for Challenger.

Atlantis and Endeavour both started out as all glass cockpits, while Discovery was retrofitted.
According to the Nasa web site, no orbiter was delivered with a glass cockpit. Atlantis was the first to receive the retrofit to the all glass display and the system first flew on STS-101 in May 2000. Columbia had been retrofitted before its last flight, and Discovery and Endeavour have been upgraded during the downtime since the Columbia accident.

Endeavour was delivered in 1991 with significantly improved avionics over the other orbiters, but it was not the current glass cockpit set-up.
 
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Bluto said:
Can't we do better than 30 year old technology? Why are we still relying on these dinosaurs for our space program?

Well, we haven't sent a man past LEO since the 1970's, and realistically, the shuttle is still a pretty efficient machine for LEO operations. Of course, I'm sure we can do better. Any ideas on what the next reusable spacecraft will be like???
 

seethru

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I also remember that Discovery originally was not intended to actually fly. It wasn't until after the Challenger accident that they fitted it for flight, since they needed another orbiter. Am I correct in this?

It also looks like the whole program is on hold now that the video of the launch showed more insulation separating from the large orange fuel tank.

Clear skies!
 

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NEDude said:
Endeavour was built mostly from spare parts as the replacement for Challenger.
LOL. That's gotta be reassuring to the crew.
 

mzaharis

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Columbia was probably the most different, followed by Challenger. Columbia was the heaviest by a good margin (8400 pounds), which made it inappropriate for ISS missions. Additionally, considerable improvements were made to the Thermal protection system. Columbia didn't have any of the silicon thermal blankets, but used white-covered tiles in medium temperature areas. I think that Challenger had some of the blankets, but not as many as the later orbiters (Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour), all of which had similar thermal protection system installations. Don't know about cockpit configurations. Columbia also had a camera on the top of the vertical stabilizer to take thermal images of reentry heating.

Discovery was always intended to be a flying orbiter. Enterprise was once intended to be converted into a flying orbiter, but it was decided that it was not worth it to convert it to orbital flying status after the glide tests. It never had real engines, a thermal protection system, and lacked many other systems not necessary for testing of the craft during its final descent (the 747 piggyback "drop" tests).

BTW, the next US space vehicle will not be reusable. The CEV is an expendable concept, that is part of NASA's plan to go to the Moon, and eventually Mars. It is based on non-reusable elements, which may not be so bad, as many of the Shuttle's more troublesome features (such as the tile-based and RCC-based thermal protection system, and the expensive and complex main engines) were due to reusability.
 
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KigAir

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Bluto said:
Can't we do better than 30 year old technology? Why are we still relying on these dinosaurs for our space program?
What is our space program accomplishing?
 

canyonblue737

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TheRaven said:
Atlantis and Endeavour both started out as all glass cockpits, while Discovery was retrofitted. I believe that Discovery was chosen because it was the shuttle most recently overhauled prior to the Columbia disaster. I think that both of the others are in their respective facilities at the KSC and are both in the rotation for launch.
none started as glass. they have each received the glass during their 5 year overhaul cycles. the glass is ala southwest, it shows "round dials" to keep the training easy between models until such time as they can design a new software package to include more use of color and some tape displays etc.

endeavour is currently in a major overhaul cycle, i think getting its glass and i think for the first time ever being done at the cape vs. california. atlantis is in the vehicle assembly building having been or about to be mounted to the stack of the external tank and solid rocket boosters for the sept. launch but that is now in jeapordy after a large piece of foam still came off the tank during the discovery launch.
 

mzaharis

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KigAir said:
What is our space program accomplishing?
Right now, the human spaceflight program is mostly upholding treaty and contractual obligations to other countries in the construction of the ISS, whose scientific output has been rather open to question. Unmanned is doing some pretty interesting science. The CEV and NASA's future plans hopefully represent a change in direction back to exploration and expansion of the horizons for humanity (cue inspiring music). We'll see if they can deliver on the promise, and if our political leadership can maintain a consistent vision beyond a single administration, and not let it be sacrificed to a program that sometimes has been used to justify its own industrial base.
 
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canyonblue737

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each shuttle got less heavy in order, columbia was by far the heaviest. it also lacked hardware for space station docking and its weight made it unlikely to reach the station... BUT in the years before the ill fated 2003 flight they made the decision to put the hardware in and lighten it up a bit and had actually assigned it a mission to the ISS. the columbia had a thermal camera in the tail and extensive test wiring from the orginal flights still in place along with a CVR like box that none of the others had. that box actually survived the 2003 crash and provided data on the breakup.

endeavour was only constructed after congress provided funding for it after the challenger was destroyed and it is made up of mostly spare parts destined for the other orbiters.
 

canyonblue737

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Flying Illini said:
not sure why Discovery was chosen, maybe they are on a rotation? I would imagine that they are near carbon copies of each other.

side note: I believe Discovery was also the first shuttle to fly after the Challenger disaster.
the picked was based on the overhaul cycle. i think discovery was either just out of overhaul or perhaps IN overhaul so it was easiest to modify with the columbia board recommended safety changes. atlantis is also done and ready to fly. endeavour is currently in major overhaul and can't fly till 2006. discovery was the first shuttle to fly after the challenger explosion.
 

9GClub

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KigAir said:
What is our space program accomplishing?
http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html

We also fly in space 'cause it's there.



In related news, this insulation-shedding propensity is freaking me out, guys. NASA brass is now saying that the largest piece that fell off this time "could have been bad"...... by which of course they mean a repeat of three years ago. As much as I love to see them fly, blowing chunks so consistently is unacceptable.

I'm sure they've looked into alternative fuel sources.... wasn't Spaceship One a few months ago powered by solid rubber and alcohol? Don't quote me on that, but something like that might eliminate the need for thermal insulation. Somebody who knows what they're talking about please chime in.
 

Fly_Chick

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canyonblue737 said:
atlantis is in the vehicle assembly building having been or about to be mounted to the stack of the external tank and solid rocket boosters for the sept. launch but that is now in jeapordy after a large piece of foam still came off the tank during the discovery launch.
How many orbiters fit in the VAB at one time?
 

Bluto

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KigAir said:
What is our space program accomplishing?
If we had something more efficent, maybe we could do something more with it than re-arrange satellites and stick pieces on the ISS. I think space exploration is important to our future, but if NASA can't handle it maybe privately owned and financed operations are the way of the future. I just have to wonder, considering the cost, if the shuttle is the best tool for the job.
 

canyonblue737

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Fly_Chick said:
How many orbiters fit in the VAB at one time?
certainly only one in the stacked configuration, but perhaps you could fit another waiting to go since the building was made to house the saturn V. i have never seen more than 1 in there at a time.
 

EagleRJ

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-Challenger was originally intended to be the test vehicle, while Enterprise was going to be a flight vehicle. They were switched due to the fact that Enterprise was going to be finished far earlier.

-SpaceShipOne was powered by a cast solid fuel consisting mostly of tire rubber, with nitrous oxide as an oxidizer. That choice of fuel had the advantage of being benign and non-explosive, but it lacks the Specific Impulse (basically gas mileage) of hypergolics. The liquid hydrogen/oxygen powered engines on the Orbiter develop far more thrust per pound of propellant.
The SS1 doesn't require the same thermal insulation as the Shuttle because it isn't exposed to the same heat. SS1 essentially freefalls from 360,000', and the only heating is due to the speed built up from falling in a vacuum. It has a lot of drag in the "feathered" position, and doesn't weigh a lot, so Mach number- and heating- is kept to a minimum. The Shuttle is orbital, and must aerobrake from around 18,000 MPH in order to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. It obviously weighs a lot for its frontal area, so heating is much higher.

-There have been several attempts to develop a replacement for the Shuttle. The most mature was the X-33, a single stage to orbit lifting body with a more efficient "aerospike" engine that would serve as a technology demonstrator for a much larger version, called the VentureStar. The program was making good progress, but was killed due to funding issues.
Sounds like this flight may be the last for a while. NASA has grounded the Shuttle fleet pending resolution of the debris issue.
 
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