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The Best Space Shuttle?  
User currently offlineGREATANSETT From Australia, joined Aug 2003, 508 posts, RR: 3
Posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 4 days ago) and read 4736 times:

Just a question, which space shuttle was the best in its day, the Enterprise or Buran. Considering that the Russian equiverlant only flew once, which was the better shuttle?

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User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4731 times:

Quoting GREATANSETT (Thread starter):
Just a question, which space shuttle was the best in its day, the Enterprise or Buran. Considering that the Russian equiverlant only flew once, which was the better shuttle?

The U.S. Shuttle, post-Challenger, is of course the superior vehicle, as Buran 1 only flew once and was considered unflyable afterwards, while the post-Challenger Shuttle has flown 89 times.

However, the Buran series, if the thermal protection defect was corrected, had the potential to be better. They were capable of greater payloads both up and down and lacked the reusable Main Propulsion System that greatly complicated US Shuttle turnaround.

That's not surprising, as the Buran design was very heavily influenced by the US design. Buran was the essentially the Space Shuttle Mk.II, incorporating lessons learned in development and seven years of operation by its US forebear.


User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8507 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4724 times:

Considering that Buran could actually go into space, and Enterprise was only an atmospheric test article...

User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 4649 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 2):
Considering that Buran could actually go into space, and Enterprise was only an atmospheric test article...

Considering that Enterprise could carry a crew while Buran couldn't...  Smile

Anyway, Enterprise was intended to be a full spaceworthy Shuttle (that's why it got a production tail number... OV-101) Enterprise was meant to be the second Shuttle in space, after Columbia (OV-102). Enterprise was initially completed only for atmospheric work so that NASA could get real world data on how the Shuttle flew (the 1977 Approach and Landing Test program.) While Enterprise was flying the ALT program, Rockwell would be finishing Columbia and putting a Structural Test Article (STA-099) through its paces. The original schedule called for Columbia to be completed in 1978 and enter service in 1979 while Enterprise replaced it back on the Rockwell line. Enterprise would then have been finished for spaceflight, with scheduled launch in 1982.

The thermal tile and Main Engine delays that hit the Shuttle program hard in 1978 gave NASA and Rockwell time to reconsider this plan. To complete Enterprise, Rockwell would have to disassemble it to a great extent. But the Structural Test Article was only a Shuttle skeleton and would be easier to upgrade. Also, the STA was a significantly lighter airframe than Enterprise, which translated into heavier payload capability. Since NASA had not yet won funding for the more powerful third and fourth Space Shuttles (OV-103 and 104 weren't approved until 1980) they agreed to upgrade STA-099 into a full Shuttle and retire Enterprise. STA-099 was redesignated OV-099 and named Challenger.


User currently offlineCloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4480 times:

Quoting Thorny (Reply 1):
That's not surprising, as the Buran design was very heavily influenced by the US design. Buran was the essentially the Space Shuttle Mk.II, incorporating lessons learned in development and seven years of operation by its US forebear.

I have read in places that one of the reasons the US went for the infamous side by side desigm, rather than have the orbiter on top, was to reuse the main engines. The Russian decision would then not make sense.

Then again, the whole concept of the Space shuttle did not make sense. At least, it did not make sense with the technology available at the time. We led the Russians streight over a cliff in this one. Everything we want to get with ISS, Constellation, the CEV, etc. we could have had a long time ago without the shuttle boondoggle.


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 977 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 4470 times:

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 4):
At least, it did not make sense with the technology available at the time.

In the 1970s, the Shuttle was a remarkable achievement, but many hardware systems seemed evolutionary from Apollo.

- SSME significantly influenced by the Saturn-II J2 engine
- Manuevering propulsion derrived from Apollo spacecraft
- Fuel cells and systems derrived from Apollo spacecraft
- SRB technology demonstrated by Titan III and new generation ICBM

Easier said than done and proving the SSME and TPS reliable bogged the program down.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, and we're fortunate we developed any opperational vehicle at all. The configuration proposed by Rockwell and selected by NASA was one of the simplest. Manned fly-back boosters and what not were all proposed during the conceptual phase.

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 4):
Everything we want to get with ISS, Constellation, the CEV, etc. we could have had a long time ago without the shuttle boondoggle.

In some ways, we may be making simmilar mistakes with the CEV that we made with the Shuttle.

Is NASA mistaken to use Shuttle hardware as the CEV Crew Launch Vehicle rather than a more optimized booster? Is certain hardware being maintained for business politics rather than performance and economics?

It's too early to tell, but can we expect NASA to get the vehicle configuration perfect?


User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 4360 times:

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 4):
Then again, the whole concept of the Space shuttle did not make sense.

The concept made perfect sense, and still does. The execution is what went badly wrong. Shuttle began life as a reusable manned spacecraft to replace the expensive and (probably) unreusable Apollo. Shuttle wasn't originally proposed to be an all-purpose launch vehicle. Early studies looked for launching the Shuttle on Saturn IB. When Shuttle took on more missions and grew larger, it became a dual vehicle launch system, a reusable Orbiter riding atop (or astride in some designs) a reusable winged Booster (that's why the Shuttle's today are designated OV-101, OV-102..., the boosters would have been BV-101, BV-102...) But the money to build essentially two brand new manned spacecraft wasn't forthcoming, so the winged booster was cancelled and NASA began drawing up plans to launch the Orbiter atop a Saturn V S-1C first stage. (There were even winged, reusable S-1Cs proposed.) When even that proved too expense in the lean Nixon-era budgets, NASA scrapped the reusable booster and adopted reusable solid boosters and a throwaway fuel tank. At that point, in a perfect world, NASA would have completely thrown out its original plans and started again with a better design... there were better ways to do the booster/tank concept, Lockheed's Starclipper, for example. But that would have cost even more money and would have made a very tempting target for Congress to cut. So they didn't, and we were stuck with the Shuttle we know today.

Quoting Cloudy (Reply 4):
Everything we want to get with ISS, Constellation, the CEV, etc. we could have had a long time ago without the shuttle boondoggle.

Except that... no, we wouldn't have. Constellation, CEV, etc. are all essentially Apollo Mk.II. NASA had plenty of plans to continue and improve Apollo, including making parts of the Saturn rockets reusable and cheaper to build. LBJ was indifferent to this. He funded post-Apollo work at first (Skylab) and then let it die to pay for Vietnam and his Great Society programs. Nixon and Congress later adamantly refused to pay for any more Apollo flights, they even killed the last two for which the hardware was already bought and paid for. So we wouldn't have gotten ISS, Constellation, CEV, etc. without the "Shuttle Boondoggle" because, well... we didn't. NASA still planned a Space Station in this post-Apollo environment... they wanted a big one launched by Saturn V and serviced by a small Shuttle. Nixon and Congress agreed to the Shuttle, but said "wait until Shuttle is finished" before they'd approve Station. And we've been stuck in this rut since Station was finally approved in 1984.

[Edited 2006-03-21 00:31:45]

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