As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

One of the main elements of the exhibition National Air and Space Museum Smithsonian (Udvar Hazy Center name) is the space shuttle "Discovery". Actually the hangar in the first place and was built to take the spacecraft NASA program after the completion of the Space Shuttle. During active use of the shuttles, the center Udvar Hazy was put training ship Enterprise, used for the tests in the atmosphere and how the weights-dimensional model before creating the first truly space shuttle "Columbia".

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

The space shuttle "Discovery". Over 27 years of service, the shuttle was in space 39 times.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Ships built under the program "Space Transportation System"

The scheme of the ship

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

"Enterprise" OV-101 - 0 of flights. (Test for Ship atmospheric tests)

"Columbia" OV-102 - 28 flights.

"Challenger" OV-099 - 10 flights.

"Discovery" OV-103 - 39 flights.

"Atlantis" OV-104 - 33 flights.

"Endeavor" OV-105 - 25 flights.

Total: 135 flights into space.


Apollo program was a national project, and the United States at that time, the agency used a virtually unlimited budget. That's why NASA had grandiose plans: Space station by Freedom, designed for 50-man crew, a permanent base on the moon by 1981, the program Manned Venus Flyby, nuclear space ship "Orion" for missions to Mars and into deep space through NERVA engine. For service and supply all of the space economy was conceived Space Shuttle Space Shuttle. Its planning and development began in 1971 in the company's North American Rockwell.

Unfortunately, most of the ambitious plans for the agency and was not to be. The landing on the Moon has decided to all US policy objectives in space at that time, and practical interest in deep space flights are not represented. And the public's interest began to fade. Who immediately remember the name of the third man on the moon? At the time of the last flight of Apollo on the program "Soyuz-Apollo" in 1975 funding for the US space agency has been drastically reduced by the decision of President Richard Nixon. The US had more immediate concerns and interests in the world. As a result, further manned flights of Americans in general have come under question. Lack of funding and increased solar activity and led to the fact that NASA has lost the station Skylab project, much ahead of his time and having had the benefits even before today's ISS. The agency simply did not have the ships and carriers in time to raise its orbit, and the station was burned in the atmosphere.

Space Shuttle "Discovery" - the nose of

Visibility from the cockpit quite limited. Also visible nasal nozzle system orientation engines.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

All that at the time managed to make NASA's, is to submit the program of the space shuttle as the economic feasibility. Space Shuttle had to take over as the provision of manned spaceflight, launch satellites, as well as their repair and maintenance. NASA promised to take care of all the launches of spacecraft, including military and commercial, that due to the use of reusable spacecraft, could lead to self-sufficiency project provided several dozen launches per year.

Space Shuttle "Discovery" - the wing panel and power

At the rear of the shuttle, near the engine power panel is visible through which the ship was connected on the launch pad at the time of launch pad separated from the shuttle.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

I'll tell you that self-sufficiency project never came, but on paper it looked quite smoothly (perhaps because it was intended), so that the construction and maintenance of ships money had been allocated. Unfortunately, to build a new station at NASA was not possible, all heavy rocket "Saturn" was spent in the lunar program (the latter launched Skylab), and the construction of new funds were not. Without Space Station Space Shuttle had a fairly limited amount of time in orbit (no more than 2 weeks). In addition, stocks dV reusable ship was much smaller than the one-time Soviet Union or the US Apollo. As a result, space shuttle was able to release only low orbits (up to 643 km), in many respects, this fact has ordained that today, 42 years later, the last manned flight into deep space has been and remains the mission of Apollo 17.

Clearly visible fastening cargo bay leaves. They are quite small and relatively fragile, as the cargo bay is opened only in weightlessness.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Space Shuttle "Endeavor" with an open cargo bay. Just behind the cockpit is seen docking station to work in the International Space Station.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

The space shuttle was able to climb into orbit crew of up to 8 people, depending on the inclination of the orbit, from 12 to 24, 4 tons of cargo. And, importantly, the lower orbit loads of up to 14 tons and 4 above with the proviso that they contain in the cargo hold of the ship. Soviet and Russian space vehicles such opportunities do not possess so far. When NASA released data on the payload cargo bay of the Space Shuttle, the Soviet Union seriously considered the idea of ​​kidnapping Soviet space stations and spaceships Space Shuttle vehicles. It was even suggested to equip the Soviet manned space station weaponry to defend against a possible attack shuttle.

Nozzle system orientation of the spacecraft. On thermal skin are clearly visible traces of the last entry of the ship into the atmosphere.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Ships Space Shuttle actively used for orbital launches of unmanned vehicles, in particular, the Hubble Space Telescope. The presence of the crew and the ability to repair in orbit avoids embarrassing situations in a spirit of Phobos-Grunt. Just Space Shuttle worked with space stations in the program Mir Space Shuttle in the early 90's and until recently delivered the modules to the ISS, which is not required to be equipped with its own propulsion system. Due to the high cost of the flight crews of the rotation completely secure and supply the ISS (as planned by the developers - its main task) the ship was not able to. Space Shuttle "Discovery" - ceramic lining.

Each tile lining has its own serial number and designation. Unlike the Soviet Union, where the program "Buran" ceramic tile cladding made with a stock, NASA built a workshop where a special machine serial number tiles manufactured the desired size automatically. After filter had to be replaced every few hundreds of such tiles.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Driving spaceship flight

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

1. Start - ignition propulsion stages I and II, flight control performed deviation of the thrust vector of engines of the shuttle, and to a height of about 30 kilometers further control is provided by deflection of the steering wheel. Manual control at the stage of take-off is not provided, the ship is managed by a computer, similar to a conventional rocket.

2. Branch solid accelerators occurs at 125 seconds when the flight speed 1390 m / s and altitude of 50 km. To prevent damage to the shuttle, they are separated by the eight small rocket engines for solid fuels. At an altitude of 7, 6 km accelerators open the drogue parachute, and at an altitude of 4, 8 km - the main parachute. At 463 seconds after launch and at a distance of 256 km from the launch pad occurs splashdown solid boosters, before being towed to shore. In most cases, boosters manage to refill and reuse.

Video recording space flight cameras solid accelerators.

3. On the second flight 480 separates the external fuel tank (orange), given the speed and the height of the branch, saving and re-use of the fuel tank would require to equip it with the same thermal protection, as does the shuttle that ultimately considered it inappropriate . Ballistic tank falls into the Pacific or the Indian Ocean, destroyed in the dense layers of the atmosphere.

4. Output orbiter into orbit by a motor orientation system. 5. Implementation of orbital flight program.

6. retrograde impulse motors hydrazine orientation decayed.

7. Planning in the earth's atmosphere. In contrast to the "Buran" landing is carried out by hand, so the unmanned ship could not fly.

8. Planting to the launch site, the ship lands at a speed of about 300 kilometers per hour, which is much higher than conventional aircraft landing speeds. To shorten the braking distance and the load on the chassis, immediately after touching the disclosed brake parachutes.

The propulsion system. The tail hook capable bifurcate speaking at the final stages of landing aircraft brake.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Despite the resemblance, spaceplane has very little to do with the aircraft, it is rather a very heavy glider. The shuttle does not have its own reserves of fuel for the main engines, so engines operate only while the vehicle is connected to the orange fuel tank (for the same reason, the engine is mounted asymmetrically). In space and during boarding the ship uses only low-power motors and two orientation propulsion engine fuel hydrazine (small engines on either side of the main).

There were plans to implement the Space Shuttle jet engines, but because of the high cost and reducing the weight of the payload of the ship engines and fuel from the jet engines have decided to refuse. Lift ship small wings and landing itself is carried out exclusively through the use of the kinetic energy of decay. In fact, the ship planned to orbit right on the spaceport. For this reason, the ship has only one chance to approach, turn around and go to the second round of the shuttle will not be able. Therefore, NASA has built around the world more backup bands for landing shuttles.

Space Shuttle "Discovery" - the crew hatch.

This door used for embarkation and disembarkation of crew members. Luke is not equipped with an airlock and space is blocked. Spacewalks, docking with Mir and the ISS crew carried out through a gateway in the cargo hold on the "back" of the ship.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Sealed suit for takeoff and landing of the space shuttle.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

The first test flights of the shuttles were equipped with chairs, catapults, which allowed emergency leave the ship, then catapult removed. It was also one of the emergency landing scenario, when the crew left the ship by parachute at the last stage of descent. The characteristic orange color of the suit has been chosen to facilitate rescue operations in the event of an emergency landing. Unlike the space suit, the suit has no heat-distribution system and EVAs not intended. In the case of complete depressurization of the ship even in the presence germokostyuma likely to survive at least a few hours - a little.

Space Shuttle "Discovery" - the chassis and the ceramic lining and bottom of the wing.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

The suit for work in open space program Space Shuttle.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged


From 5 2 built ships were lost with all hands.

The disaster of the Shuttle "Challenger" mission STS-51L

January 28, 1986 shuttle "Challenger" exploded 73 seconds after the start of the accident of the sealing ring solid booster broke through the slit jet fire melted the fuel tank and led to the exposure margin liquid hydrogen and oxygen. The crew, apparently escaped immediately in the explosion, but the cabin was not equipped with a parachute or other means of salvation and broke the water.

After the Challenger disaster, NASA has developed several crew rescue procedures during take-off and landing, but none of these scenarios are still not able to save the crew, "Challenger," even if it were provided.

Catastrophe shuttle "Columbia" mission STS-107

Fragments shuttle "Columbia" burned in the atmosphere.

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

The plot of thermal edge wing skin appeared damaged when starting two weeks before and rolled piece of insulating foam, covering the fuel tank (a tank filled with liquid oxygen and hydrogen, so insulation foam avoids the formation of ice and to reduce fuel evaporation). This fact is noticed, but did not attach due importance on the understanding that in any case the astronauts can do little. As a result, it span passed nominally to stage re-entry February 1, 2003. There is clearly seen that the heat shield covers only the edge of the wing. (This is where the "Columbia" get damaged).

As the space transportation system Space Shuttle was arranged

Under the influence of high temperature thermal sheathing tiles collapsed and a height of about 60 kilometers, the high-temperature plasma is broken into aluminum wing structure. In a few more seconds wing collapsed on the order of 10 max speed, vehicle loses stability and was destroyed by aerodynamic forces. Before there was "Discovery" in the museum, USS Enterprise (Training shuttle which made only atmospheric flights) it was put up at the same place.

to investigate the incident, the Commission cut the wing fragment of a museum exhibit for the examination. A special gun were fired on the edge of the wing pieces of foam and damage was evaluated. It is this experiment helped to come to a definite conclusion about the causes of the disaster. A great role played in the tragedy of the human factor, NASA officials have underestimated the damage resulting ship at the stage start.

A simple review of the wing in space could reveal the damage, but the MCC has not given to the crew of such a team, considering that the problem can be solved by a return to the Earth, and even if the damage is irreversible, the crew still can not do anything and does not make sense to worry needlessly astronauts. Although this was not the case, to start preparing for the shuttle "Atlantis", which could be used to carry out the rescue operation. Emergency protocol, which will be adopted in all subsequent flights.

Among the wreckage failed to find a video that astronauts conducted during entry into the atmosphere. Officially recording breaks off a few minutes before the accident, but I strongly suspect that NASA has decided not to publish the final seconds of life astronauts on ethical grounds. The crew did not know about the impending death of them, looking at the raging of the portholes of the ship plasma, one of the astronauts was joking, "would not like to be outside," not knowing that this is what is waiting for the whole crew just a few minutes. Life is full of grim irony.

The termination of the program

Logo end of the Space Shuttle program and commemorative coin. Coins are made of metal had been in space as part of the first mission of the space shuttle "Columbia" STS-1

The death of the space shuttle "Columbia" has put a serious question about the safety of the remaining 3 ships that were by then in operation for over 25 years. As a result, subsequent flights were held with the abbreviation crew, and always kept in reserve another one shuttle ready for launch, which could carry out the rescue operation. In conjunction with the change of the US government's emphasis on the commercial development of space, these factors have led to the termination of the program in 2011. The last shuttle flight was the start of "Atlantis" to the International Space Station July 8, 2011.

Space Shuttle program has made a huge contribution to space exploration, and development of knowledge and experience of working in orbit. Without the space shuttle, the construction of the ISS would be completely different and unlikely to date would be close to completion. On the other hand, it is believed that the Space Shuttle Program NASA held back the last 35 years, requiring more maintenance costs shuttles: the cost per flight amounted to about $ 500 million, for comparison - the launch of each "Union" costs as little as 75-100.

Ships consuming funds that could go on the development of interplanetary programs and more promising areas in the exploration and development of space. For example, the construction of a more compact and cheap disposable or reusable spacecraft, for those missions where there was simply no need 100 ton space shuttle. Refuse from the NASA Space Shuttle, the development of the US space industry might go quite differently.

How exactly, it is now hard to say, probably, at NASA had no choice, and do not be shuttles, civil space exploration America could do to stop. We can confidently say one thing today ships Space Shuttle has been and remains the only example of a successful reusable space system. Soviet "Buran" even though he was built as a reusable vehicle in space visited only once, however, is a different story.