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Could The Space Shuttle Land On Water?  
User currently offlinePizzaandplanes From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7009 times:

In the event that the shuttle would have to make an emergency landing in the ocean, could the shuttle float properly? According to the safety cards of the regular civilian aircraft, they can float in water when properly landed in water.

41 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineZANL188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3504 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 7007 times:
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Float? Yes. In one piece? No.

Ditching a shuttle is not thought to be a survivable thing due to its high landing speed, lack of engines, and probable break up of the airframe. Preferable option for a water landing is to bail out.



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User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29791 posts, RR: 58
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 6991 times:

To tell you the truth the shuttle would probably not be badly shapped for a water ditching. The problem would be the rate of decent at touchdown.

I doubt it would fly again.



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User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6202 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6936 times:

For that matter a commercial airplane is not likely to fair well in an ocean ditching either.


Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineLitz From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1755 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 6708 times:
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I would guess that the shuttle's airframe itself probably wouldn't have much of a problem landing on water (provided the gear was not down) ... it's a VERY smooth bottom.

The problem is, soon as you hit the water, the engines and everything in the cargo bay would keep going forward, whilst everything around them didn't. Not a good situation.

Remember the shuttle is designed for max torque in a downward direction, towards the rear of the ship, as that's what it experiences on takeoff. Massively reversed forces would require so much weight to counter it would be unflyable.

- litz


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 962 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 6687 times:

A survivable water landing is considered impossible for the Shuttle. Litz nailed it: the de-acceleration of even a gentle splash down would rapidly exceed the strength of the cargo tie downs in the payload bay. Everything aft of the crew cabin is coming forward and would destroy the crew cabin.

If the Shuttle was capable of stable flight and a water landing was the only option, the crew would elect to bail-out.


User currently offlinePizzaandplanes From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 6648 times:

From what I read in Popular Mechanics, the old version of landing will become new. So, is this true that the new aircraft to bring astronauts to space will land in the water again?

I personally think that a spacecraft should be able to land on land and water.


User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1852 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 6642 times:

Quoting Pizzaandplanes (Reply 6):
I personally think that a spacecraft should be able to land on land and water.

Why? If something happens on launch, most likely its not survivable, on reentry the same. The "escape hatch" was put in just to placate everyone after Challenger. People just don't realize the extremes that any spacecraft goes through. The high mach numbers alone boggle the mind, let alone the heat. Just getting a spacecraft back into earths atmosphere is a miracle in its self, let alone landing it where you want to. And to make it able to land on water or dry ground? It would be easier to put floats on a 747.
Sorry for the little rant. Putting a man in space and returning him home is the hardest thing we can do so far. Be glad most survive to tell the tale.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlinePizzaandplanes From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 6624 times:

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 7):

I don't mean to contradict you but with the kind of money, people, and intelligence put into the space program wouldn't such a thing seem possible. Who thought in 40 years the space program would advance this much? Of course the challenges have arisen like entering the earths atmosphere but NASA engineers have stepped up to the plate and conquered them. I think that in the future hopefully the spacecrafts sent to space will be able to land on what 70% of the earths surface is made of, along with better techniques on land.


User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 6588 times:

I think If NASA could recruit a certain Jewish Carpenter it could be done. Otherwise, all above are reasonable responses in that getting out before impact is the best option

User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 962 posts, RR: 51
Reply 10, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6562 times:

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 7):
The "escape hatch" was put in just to placate everyone after Challenger.

Not true. The egress hatch used for ditching is the same hatch used to board and disembark from the Shuttle since STS-1. The modification post-Challenger was to make a deployable boom available that would push astronauts safely underneath the port wing if they had to bail-out during atmospheric flight.

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 7):
Putting a man in space and returning him home is the hardest thing we can do so far.

Oh dispense with the melodrama: no it isn't. Space flight is not hard, it is just tedious and expensive. It is no miracle whatsoever that our crews return safely 98-99% of the time.

Quoting Pizzaandplanes (Reply 8):
I think that in the future hopefully the spacecrafts sent to space will be able to land on what 70% of the earths surface is made of, along with better techniques on land.

There's no reason to land an aircraft capable of controlled descent in the water. Especially not a vehicle like the STS that is intended to be re-used. And look at the replies above: to make a winged vehicle like the Shuttle capable of a water splash-down, it would require reinforcement to the point that it would no longer be capable of flight.

FWIW, the Orion CEV capsule will be fully capable of emergency water landings.


User currently offlineBEG2IAH From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 947 posts, RR: 18
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 6542 times:
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All the answers can be found right here:

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/...nology/sts-newsref/sts_egress.html

To quote just a piece of it: "The probability of the flight crew surviving a ditching is very slim."

BEG2IAH



FAA killed the purpose of my old signature: Use of approved electronic devices is now permitted.
User currently offlineVorticity From United States of America, joined May 2004, 337 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 6533 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 10):
Oh dispense with the melodrama: no it isn't. Space flight is not hard, it is just tedious and expensive. It is no miracle whatsoever that our crews return safely 98-99% of the time.

For the first time I want to disagree with you DFW... after working in the space industry for several years. It is very hard to send someone to space... and that 98%-99% survival rate is pretty abismal if you really sit down and think about it. With that type of failure rate, over the lifecycle of a space vehicle, people will die. That means every man or woman that agrees to go up is accepting risk, but their families don't feel the same. Though I'd agree it's not the hardest thing we have attempted to accomplish by far.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 10):
There's no reason to land an aircraft capable of controlled descent in the water.

Back to agreeing with you  checkmark 



Thermodynamics and english units don't mix...
User currently offlineVzlet From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 833 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6475 times:

Quoting Jhooper (Reply 3):
For that matter a commercial airplane is not likely to fair well in an ocean ditching either.

I think that sea state is a big factor. There have been a number of survivable ditchings/unintentional descents into calm water by jet airliners.



"That's so stupid! If they're so secret, why are they out where everyone can see them?" - my kid
User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 6322 times:

Isn´t the bottom of the spaceshuttle extremely hot? Wouldn´t it crack is cooled down in water?
Does head or tailwind contribute a lot?


User currently offlineBoeingfixer From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 529 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 6316 times:

Quoting Alessandro (Reply 14):
Isn´t the bottom of the spaceshuttle extremely hot? Wouldn´t it crack is cooled down in water?
Does head or tailwind contribute a lot?

The Thermal Protection System, TPS is what absorbs the reentry energy and is somewhat hot after reentry. The basic structure underneath is not hot at all. That being said, the Thermal Tiles are very fragile and would not survive any ditching attempt, let alone the Space Shuttle itself.

Cheers,

John



Cheers, John YYC
User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2098 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 6270 times:

Quoting Alessandro (Reply 14):
Isn´t the bottom of the spaceshuttle extremely hot? Wouldn´t it crack is cooled down in water?
Does head or tailwind contribute a lot?

It is glowing red during reentry. However the tiles cool down amazingly fast, within minutes or less. I've been to the open house for employees (my uncles work there) and they would take a tile, heat it to red hot with a blow torch, take the flame off and 20 seconds later let you hold it. It cooled off that quick. So, after slowing down to 'normal' flight speeds well after reentry has occurred, by the time it ditched the tiles would not be hot anymore.

That just addresses your question about the tiles being hot at ditching though. I'm not making a statement about whether a ditching would be successful or not, I'll leave that to the other armchair experts.  Wink



Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 6226 times:

Quoting Pizzaandplanes (Reply 6):
I personally think that a spacecraft should be able to land on land and water.

Orion is to be capable of both. What is being debated is which will be the standard way. It looks like a ground landing will be standard, but a launch abort will require water landing. Water landing will seriously hamper reusability efforts.

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 7):
Why? If something happens on launch, most likely its not survivable, on reentry the same.

History doesn't support this. There have been three launch accidents involving manned spacecraft: Soyuz 18A, Soyuz T-10A, and STS-51L. Only 51L suffered loss of life. STS-107 is a borderline launch accident as well, and even there, the crew would have (possibly) survived if the damage sustained at launch had been investigated and Atlantis launched on a rescue mission.

Quoting Vorticity (Reply 12):
For the first time I want to disagree with you DFW... after working in the space industry for several years. It is very hard to send someone to space...

No, I think DFW is right. Getting into space is not that hard. Mankind put its first vehicle into space in 1944 (a V-2 rocket) and a relatively modest medium-range missile put Shepard and Grissom into space in 1961. The X-15 did it a couple of times a year or two later. In 2004, SpaceShipOne broke the X-15 altitude records for a fraction of X-15's cost. Getting into space need not be hard. Getting into orbit is presently costly and difficult, but so was going suborbital until SpaceShipOne did it.


User currently offlineDeltaDC9 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 2844 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (7 years 3 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 6137 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 5):
Everything aft of the crew cabin is coming forward and would destroy the crew cabin.

Maybe, but as stong as the crew compartment is, ti would probably just break up the whole thing and the crew compartment would be sent flying reletively in tact.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 10):
Oh dispense with the melodrama: no it isn't.

Designing and building the vehicles and infrastructure that take us there is extremely complex and difficult, training for spaceflight is very difficult, management of the programs that involve manned and unmanned spaceflight is extremely complex, so I cannot agree.

Quoting Alessandro (Reply 14):
Isn´t the bottom of the spaceshuttle extremely hot? Wouldn´t it crack is cooled down in water?
Does head or tailwind contribute a lot?

The tiles as the poster above said would be touchable within seconds of glowing red, but they have no real sthength and are attached with glue so they would just shatter and break off.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 17):
No, I think DFW is right. Getting into space is not that hard.

For once, I dont agree with you. See above. Besides, the Shuttle was considered the most complex machine ever created at one point, then the A-380. Think of the raw effort and time involved just to get the 380 to fly muchless a space system.



Dont take life too seriously because you will never get out of it alive - Bugs Bunny
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 3 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6085 times:

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 18):
Quoting Thorny (Reply 17):
No, I think DFW is right. Getting into space is not that hard.

For once, I dont agree with you. See above. Besides, the Shuttle was considered the most complex machine ever created at one point, then the A-380. Think of the raw effort and time involved just to get the 380 to fly muchless a space system.

One doesn't need the Shuttle to get into space, that's hugely overkill. Space travel itself is high-risk and costly, but so is climbing Mt. Everest. The only thing making it excessively costly is the government monopoly. The idea that spaceflight is too expensive and too risky for anyone but a government was shattered by the X Prize and the success of SpaceShipOne three years ago.

To get into space, at minimal values, you have to reach around 350,000 feet. Modest rockets carrying humans are capable of this, as demonstrated back in 1961. Scaled Composites achieved this in 2004 with a very modestly-budgeted air-launched rocketplane, SpaceShipOne, and is now building a larger derivative for paying customers. Bigelow Aerospace has a prototype inflatable structure in orbit and will soon launch a second to demonstrate its technology for orbital hotels, and is now known to be working with both SpaceX and Lockheed-Martin to develop and launch private orbital spacecraft to carry paying customers to and from their orbital hotel. Rocketplane-Kistler is developing a low-cost launcher and Space Station resupply vehicle that could later be manned. Other companies, such as Andrews and t/Space are at work on low-cost launchers and spacecraft, even though they lost NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition, because these and other companies see potential lucrative markets for such services in the not-too-distant future.

None of these things would be happening if space were excessively costly and difficult.


User currently offline3DPlanes From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 167 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (7 years 3 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6085 times:

First time posting over here... I usually stay in Tech Ops...

But, there is an interesting book (can't remember the name) that compares current space exploration to the early settlers in their Conestogas and then the barnstormers. It draws parallels with the idea that each starts out with government, then the daredevils, then the general public, through to mass transit.

Getting to space -is- hard, but it isn't -too- hard, as SpaceshipOne has shown.

However, one thing that does strike me about space is the "tolerances" (for lack of a better word) involved...

Realizing that rockets are a -very- low production run affair, I still wonder why seemingly mundane things fail. I know the STS is very complex and there's lots to go wrong there, but several of the upstart commercial folks with much simpler vehicles have had recent launch failures. Even Lockheed and Boeing will have issues with Titan and Delta...

If you concede that the prototype A380 and 787 are similar to rockets (i.e. low run production), why don't they have engines falling off or guidance computers going haywire on the first flight?



"Simplicate and add lightness." - Ed Heinemann
User currently offlineThorny From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 3 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6073 times:

Quoting 3DPlanes (Reply 20):
If you concede that the prototype A380 and 787 are similar to rockets (i.e. low run production), why don't they have engines falling off or guidance computers going haywire on the first flight?

They're not similar to rockets. Boeing has sold almost as many 787s, before the first one even rolls out, as pretty much all western launch vehicles built since circa 1970. You can incrementally test a 787, lots of engine run ups, low speed taxi tests, high speed taxi tests, quick hop around the airport with the gear down, then the gear up, then progressively longer flights under a varety of conditions, and hopefully get it back intact after the flight to find out what worked and what needs tweaking. Before the 787 is handed over to commercial operators, it will have flown many more times than all the world's manned space flights, probably an order of magnitude more times.

In the space arena, only the Shuttle brings back parts for inspection and analysis, but the Shuttle has rarely flown even a little bit outside of the "sweet spot" of its performance envelope. All other launchers are destroyed in the process of completing their missions, and all the engineersr have to go on is telemetry. That's what made space so hard in the past, There are signs this is about to change.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2821 posts, RR: 45
Reply 22, posted (7 years 3 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 5975 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 10):
Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 7):
Putting a man in space and returning him home is the hardest thing we can do so far.

Oh dispense with the melodrama: no it isn't. Space flight is not hard, it is just tedious and expensive. It is no miracle whatsoever that our crews return safely 98-99% of the time.

I have to join the list of dissenters. Perhaps it is more routine than in years past, but easy? No way.


User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8955 posts, RR: 60
Reply 23, posted (7 years 3 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 5956 times:
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Quoting Pizzaandplanes (Thread starter):
Could The Space Shuttle Land On Water?

Heck, just leave the SRBs on, and you've got the world's fastest floatplane.


2H4





Intentionally Left Blank
User currently offlineZANL188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3504 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (7 years 3 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 5951 times:
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FYI:

Found this by accident while researching another thread.

It's a Shuttle ditching analysis done for NASA by Grumman in 1975.

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/ca...asa.gov/19760003109_1976003109.pdf



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25 3DPlanes : True enough, but I've seen quite a number of video clips of SSMEs and SRBs being test fired... Isn't that similar? Don't get me wrong, I think there'
26 Thorny : Similar, but still an order of magnitude below what, say, the GenX will be put through before certification. Also, the Shuttles performed exactly one
27 Post contains images Vorticity : I'm not trying to debate the symantics of what is "space" and what isn't. It is, in fact, much much easier to send someone to a sub-orbital altitude
28 Jwenting : Highly unlikely. It will have to be reusable with rapid turnaround, impossible with water landings (in fact no spacecraft that landed on water was ev
29 Thorny : Of course. The point I'm trying to make is that, ten years ago, SpaceShipOne and its brethren were also considered too expensive, too risky, unmarket
30 Thorny : This is nonsense. We don't need Saturn V to go to the moon. We went the Saturn V route because we were in a hurry to meet Kennedy's 1970 deadline, an
31 PGNCS : So you're back to the EOR model proposed and rejected by NASA in the 1960s. I'm not saying you're wrong, I am just very suspicious about the argument
32 Thorny : It was abandoned then for two reasons: rendezvous and docking were still unknowns (rendezvous not demonstrated until December 1965, docking not until
33 Post contains images PGNCS : Thorny; I understand all about Houbolt and the history of LOR v. EOR. I also understand that both are in the envisioned future profile. Like I said in
34 Thorny : The problem is that it isn't at all clear that NASA chose the best solution. NASA chose to design a third new EELV-class launch vehicle (Ares I) desp
35 Jwenting : we don't have the launch capacity today to launch anything big enough... we lack the political will to commit the resources to build it in space... w
36 Thorny : WE DON'T NEED IT. Apollo was a 30,000 lb. Lunar Module (easily launchable on an EELV) and a 70,000 lbs Command/Service Module. That is heavier than w
37 DfwRevolution : And to those still skeptical of the EELV route, keep in mind two industry rules-of-thumb for space economics: - doubling your flight rate equals a 10
38 3DPlanes : This brings up another poser that I have... Having been through the OPF hangar and seen the tile rework going on, I wonder just what those folks do w
39 Jwenting : why do you think the interval between launches is so long? It's because those guys take that long to refurb those Shuttles... nonsense. IIS is a polit
40 DeltaDC9 : That is not it, are you completely unaware of what it is used for? There was so much science on those 10 or so missions I dont even have the time to
41 Post contains links Thorny : First, I'll note that you are unwilling or unable to answer my question, "what technology do we lack that we need to go back to the Moon..." Second,
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