Re-use of the space shuttles

Discussion in 'Modern' started by ivanotter, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    All, Maybe this is not the best forum. Please tel me then.

    If we should get into real space travel, i believe that a low-orbit space station, like the ISS, is a great idea.

    Now to get anywhere else, some sort of space vehicle is required.

    It should be able to carry significant cargo, etc.

    Can the space shutles not be re-used for that, as a ferry to another space station, say, around Mars?

    I am not good at this part, so please help me out.

    I am under the impression that the space shutttle are canned as too old for getting into space and especially re-entry. well, we could keep them in space instead.

    Am I off on a tangent here? I also posted this on alternatehistory although not a history question.

    Ivan
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Considering the age of the shuttle fleet, I don't think it would be wise to continue using them. While keeping them in space would avoid re-entry stresses, there are still a great deal of pressures and other things to deal with in the vacuum of space. The shuttle technology is 1970s era technology. With companies like Scaled Composites and others, there are probably alternatives that could be made cheaper and with much newer technology and material.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Consider that most of the structure of the shuttle is designed for aerodynamic forces as well as the high gee loads during launch. Thats a lot of wasted "mass" when it is in space not subject to those forces.
     
  4. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Also consider that the harsh environment of space takes it's toll on equipment over time.
     
  5. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, but WILL we replace them? With the economy S*it we'll probably abandon NASA and space like we did the moon
     
  6. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Yes, well, Mike. that is another question altogether.
     
  7. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    But I do see the point in chucking the space shuttles.

    I presume there are countles studies in terms of how an inter-planetary vehicle should look and operate. I can see the cost of operating the shuttle in space could be higher than just building a new design. HOWEVER, with the way these projects are going, Mike is right. Will there ever be money for those things again?
     
  8. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Am I right in thinking that NASA has recently cut back it's rocket program too, just as it was getting close to viable moon/Mars launch platforms? There are several different proposals for a manned mission to Mars, but I can't see any of them being taken up in the current climate
     
  9. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Is there even a point in it all? Read a report in the '90's of all the Shuttle flights to date, and their purposes. Hello, hello, more flights went up for the military than space research.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    someone has to foot the bill
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I wonder what the general concensus was about exploring what lay beyond the horizon back in the 1400's.

    They had, afterall, explored nearly every continent in thier world and "been there, done that"...so why head into the vast unkown?
     
  12. woljags

    woljags Active Member

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    i think i would have docked 2 of the space shuttles to the space station for trips to the moon using solid rockets to get people to and from the space station to save costs,the shuttles could have been designed to have a landing craft in its cargo bay that could be reused[old lunar module design ?] ,if we are to survive we will have to explore space at some time to find somewhere else to live its no good waiting for a disaster to present its self before thinking about it we need to start looking in some way now before it is too late
     
  13. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Also, doesn't it take something like 9 months to get to Mars? That's a LONG trip.
     
  14. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Woljags, It was something along those lines I also thought about. But maybe not as practible as it sounds. It is sort of saying, we have them anyway. They are paid for, why not use them a bit longer. After all, you don't ditch the car from last year, still in a mint condition, because you plan to buy a new one in five years time.

    Maybe the additional cost of putting a better suited inter-planetary vehicle together is insignificant compared to the other things you will need. HOWEVER, NASA is not exactly known for cost optimisation.

    Ivan
     
  15. woljags

    woljags Active Member

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    to be honest as mere mortals we don't really know what they have in space or on the moon already as they wouldn't tell us
     
  16. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    To be sure, governments are not the most honest and forthright with their citizens. Take this highly classified picture from the first lunar landing
     

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  17. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    I get what your saying Ivan, but the shuttles are FAR from mint condition. They are 25 to 30 years old.
     
  18. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Ok, I wil declare myself defeated, although I still have some questions on it, like:
    even 25-35 years old, the engine life cannot have been exceeded
    The stress on the air frame in space cannot be huge
    The flight instruments will not be used, so that should not matter

    They may need an avionics upgrade (inter-planetary stuff), but chucking off to the moon should not be overly difficult (??)

    But I get the drift, it is impractical.

    So, on to something completely different!

    Ivan
     
  19. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Good picture Mike. Do I spot a "lone Star" beer can to the left?
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    ivanotter, to be honest, the shuttles are too small in payload and have almost nothing in the way of onboard fuel storage all for the sake of breaking free of earth's gravity. If they wanted to go anywhere, they'd need thier liquid fuel tank and boosters attached. And transporting that much liquid fuel into orbit would not only be extremely difficult logistically, but also incredibly dangerous both on the way up and also while attached to the shuttle (the fuel tank has no real "armor" to protect it from micro-meteor and space debris impacts).

    The shuttles would be far better left in retirement (including the Soviet shuttle) and a new generation of space vehicles should succeed them (hopefully someday)...
     
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