Rockets 05


"Since 1992 alone, NASA has made engine and system improvements that are estimated to have tripled the safety of flying the Space Shuttle, and the number of problems experienced while a Space Shuttle is in flight has decreased by 70 percent. During the same period, the cost of operating the Shuttle has decreased by one and a quarter billion dollars annually -- a reduction of more than 40 percent. At the same time, because of weight reductions and other improvements, the cargo the Shuttle can carry has increased by 7.3 metric tons (8 tons.)"

Some people argue that the shuttle ran using 1970's/1980's technology and was behind the times and should not have been cancelled when it was (2011).

Others argue that we shouldn't have cancelled the shuttle program without having something in place to replace it.

Evaluate those two claims.

Now elaborate on which of those two you believe makes the stronger claim.

LEARNING GOAL FOR TODAY: I will be able to relate the engineering design challenges/flaws that led to the cancellation of the space shuttle program


  • O-Rings
  • Heat tiles


I've noted on several occasions that I WAS a big fan of the shuttle early on, but that we would be better served by more up-to-date programs.

With that in mind I tend to be somewhat biased against the program but I have neglected to mention a special talen that the shuttle has, that NO OTHER SPACE TRANSPORT system has had, currently has, or has in production (that is non-classified)

Take a look at this reading (it's only one page), and see if you can find this VERY substantial feature off the STS that I have neglected to mention.


Just out of curiousity, why did the liquid fuel booster change color from white (in the early years of the STS) to red (for most of the STS years)


Upon reading that article, you should have a reasonably good idea of how high up in orbit the space shuttle flew.

  • Why did it only fly that high?
  • Why was that a problem for things like repairing the hubble space telescope or for fetching other wayward sattelites?


The Columbia (named after the Boston-based ship that explored the Pacific Northwest-- the largest river in the northwest is, afterall, named the Columbia for a reason) orbiter was the first shuttle to fly in space. Unfortunately, (as we've discussed in class) the orbiter itself was damaged by insulation from the liquid fuel booster rocket during launch.

Let's take a look (please pay special attention to Pres Bush's remarks at the end of the presentation)


Please have a conversation with your group and discuss the current state of affairs of the United States space shuttle program.



Hmmmm..... what about THIS?


Au contraire? Then what about THIS?


Let's discuss and add a few Words O' the Day



  • O-Rings
  • Heat tiles
  • X-37B
  • Dreamchaser