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Getting the shuttle back into the air



 
 
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  #1  
Old February 10th 04, 06:07 PM
John Schutkeker
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Default Getting the shuttle back into the air


Getting the shuttle safely back into space doesn't seem too complex, but
satisfying the CAIB's requirements does. CAIB apparently charged NASA with
two tasks, to fix the problems that caused the crash - the main tank's foam
lining and the leading edge of the wing, and designing some kind of rescue
system for situations with launch damage severe enough to make landing too
dangerous.

The first task seems straightforward, but the second looks quite difficult,
especially considering that the fleet is down to three vehicles and there
won't be another one built.

The solution I imagine is to launch an escape module atop an expendable
booster, with enough capacity to evacuate the entire crew. Then mount a
repair mission at a later time. Remote control capabilities and fuel would
have to be provided to maintain the shuttle's orbit for the long term, as
it might take a year or more to plan such a repair mission, or it might
require more than one mission.

Does anybody know what options NASA is examining to do this job, or if it
would even be realistic to salvage the vehicle in such a situation? I can
easily imagine that it might be impossible to repair the shuttle in orbit,
and that in such a situation, we might lose another vehicle, although
fortunately not the crew.
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  #2  
Old February 10th 04, 08:48 PM
jeff findley
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Default Getting the shuttle back into the air

John Schutkeker writes:

The solution I imagine is to launch an escape module atop an expendable
booster, with enough capacity to evacuate the entire crew. Then mount a
repair mission at a later time. Remote control capabilities and fuel would
have to be provided to maintain the shuttle's orbit for the long term, as
it might take a year or more to plan such a repair mission, or it might
require more than one mission.


What you're talking about is similar to the vehicle NASA has wanted to
evacuate the crew from ISS in an emergency. They've wanted this for
decades. They don't have it yet because such a thing is neither cheap
nor easy to do. Eventually the CEV will be capable of such a mission,
but the shuttle won't be around when the CEV starts to fly manned
missions.

The real reason to end the shuttle program is that it costs too much
to keep going and there aren't that many orbiters left even if you
wanted to keep flying them.

Does anybody know what options NASA is examining to do this job, or if it
would even be realistic to salvage the vehicle in such a situation? I can
easily imagine that it might be impossible to repair the shuttle in orbit,
and that in such a situation, we might lose another vehicle, although
fortunately not the crew.


This has been talked about before. The answer is that once the fuel
cells run dry, you really can't recover the vehicle.

Jeff
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  #3  
Old February 11th 04, 06:33 PM
John Schutkeker
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Default Getting the shuttle back into the air

jeff findley wrote in
:

What you're talking about is similar to the vehicle NASA has wanted to
evacuate the crew from ISS in an emergency. They've wanted this for
decades. They don't have it yet because such a thing is neither cheap
nor easy to do. Eventually the CEV will be capable of such a mission,
but the shuttle won't be around when the CEV starts to fly manned
missions.


NASA has an ISS evacuation module, but I assume that it's only large enough
to hold three people, since ISS never has very many crew members. Besides,
if the Shuttle crew docked with the ISS and used their escape capsule to
return to earth, then the ISS would be without an escape capsule.

I'm suprised you think that this would be a difficult and expensive
prospect. All you need to do is get to LEO and stay aloft long enough to
evacuate the crew. The mission is extremely short, and the equipment
requirements look like the absolute minimum to me. It looks like the rough
equivalent of a Gemini mission.

The real reason to end the shuttle program is that it costs too much
to keep going and there aren't that many orbiters left even if you
wanted to keep flying them.


I accept this, but apparently the plan is to keep it going until the ISS is
finished, which sounds like it will take a number of missions, yet. And
there is talk about adding one last mission to keep the Hubble aloft, too.
Will they do all this without benefit of evacuation or repair capability,
and if they do that, won't that spit in the face of CAIB's recommendations?

once the fuel cells run dry, you really can't recover the vehicle.


Does this eliminate the possibility of launching with enough fuel to keep
the fuel cells going for 18 months in a hibernation mode, or would that
require an entire shuttle bay full of fuel.
  #4  
Old February 11th 04, 07:37 PM
jeff findley
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Default Getting the shuttle back into the air

John Schutkeker writes:

jeff findley wrote in
:

What you're talking about is similar to the vehicle NASA has wanted to
evacuate the crew from ISS in an emergency. They've wanted this for
decades. They don't have it yet because such a thing is neither cheap
nor easy to do. Eventually the CEV will be capable of such a mission,
but the shuttle won't be around when the CEV starts to fly manned
missions.


NASA has an ISS evacuation module, but I assume that it's only large enough
to hold three people, since ISS never has very many crew members. Besides,
if the Shuttle crew docked with the ISS and used their escape capsule to
return to earth, then the ISS would be without an escape capsule.


NASA has no such thing. You're talking about the Russian Soyuz
capsule. They're only cheap to build because they've been building
them for decades. Every Soviet/Russian space station visited by
people has used Soyuz as their manned transport/rescue vehicle.

I'm suprised you think that this would be a difficult and expensive
prospect. All you need to do is get to LEO and stay aloft long enough to
evacuate the crew. The mission is extremely short, and the equipment
requirements look like the absolute minimum to me. It looks like the rough
equivalent of a Gemini mission.


You prove my point. The Gemini mission was neither cheap nor easy to
do, and only held two astronauts. Same goes for Apollo (CM), and NASA
had equipment to turn one into a 5 man rescue configuration (would
have been used for a Skylab rescue mission, if the CSM docked to
Skylab failed in any way).

Jeff
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  #5  
Old February 12th 04, 08:34 AM
Jorge R. Frank
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Default Getting the shuttle back into the air

John Schutkeker wrote in
4:

Getting the shuttle safely back into space doesn't seem too complex,
but satisfying the CAIB's requirements does. CAIB apparently charged
NASA with two tasks, to fix the problems that caused the crash - the
main tank's foam lining and the leading edge of the wing, and
designing some kind of rescue system for situations with launch damage
severe enough to make landing too dangerous.


Repair, not rescue. The CAIB issued no requirements for rescue systems.

The solution I imagine is to launch an escape module atop an
expendable booster, with enough capacity to evacuate the entire crew.


No such module exists. CEV could conceivably fulfill this function, but it
will not be ready until 2008 - and then, only for unmanned tests.

--
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