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#1 2016-03-07 10:22:56

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
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Passenger module for Shuttle

People are talking more today about commercial space. This reminded me of an idea I had in the 1980s, before the Challenger accident. People thought space was becoming commercialized. That Shuttle was the way to make access to space easy, affordable, and common. The airline pilot's union thought they had to learn how to fly Shuttle, because Shuttle would replace commercial airline aircraft. So the pilot's union started organizing a training class for their pilots to learn to fly Shuttle.

While all this was happening, people compared space to the aircraft industry. How aircraft were expensive, only really becoming available to the public when large aircraft could transport a large number of passengers on a single flight. Roughly 100 passengers in a single aircraft. The DC-3 had revolutionized the airline industry. So how could we do that for space?

I had conceived of a passenger module for Shuttle. This module would fill the cargo hold. That cargo hold was able to hold a cylinder 15 feet diameter, and 60 feet long. The hold had ribs for structural strength. The top half of that cylinder was covered by cargo bay doors, fitting around the top half of the cylinder snugly. The bottom half had a flat floor, with flat vertical sides. The ribs held the bottom of a cylinder, but there was space between ribs.
shuttle_systems_400.png

My idea was a passenger module that would look similar to commercial jet airliner. It would have one central isle with two seats on either side of the isle. Each seat the size of an economy class airline seat. This module would have overhead storage bin, and under-seat storage just like an airliner. However, while commercial airliners are configured for you to store luggage under the seat ahead of you, this would provide space under your own seat. The reason is during launch, the shuttle is pointed nose up. You passengers lie on their back. Luggage would slide out. So luggage needs a wall behind the luggage to prevent slide out during launch, and before launch. So place your own luggage under your own seat, between your legs. The back of that space would have not just a bar as a stop, but a compartment with a back wall to ensure small, loose items to slide out.

This module would have 13 rows of seats. The front would have an airlock with docking hatch on top of the air lock. Shuttle had an airlock that fits inside the mid-deck, or outside in the cargo bay. But when preparations for ISS began, they designed a new airlock with a docking hatch for ISS. This passenger module would completely fill the cargo bay, from back to front, and connected to the hatch to the mid-deck. So the passenger module would have to include its own airlock and docking hatch. One reason for integrating is so the entire width of the cargo bay can be utilized. Beside the airlock would be an airline bathroom. And a ladder to the lower deck of the passenger module. The lower deck would have another 13 rows of seats.

The upper deck would have full head room for the isle. Like an airliner, above seats would be a panel with reading light, air vent, emergency oxygen mask, and above that the overhead storage compartment. The storage compartment is integrated with curvature of the cylinder of the airline fuselage. For this module, it would be integrated with curvature of the pressure module. This cylinder would be the same diameter as the Multipurpose Logistics Module. That means the lower deck has a flat ceiling, and the floor is curved. So the isle would have a the same head room as the upper deck, but seats would be on a raised platform. The reading light, air vent, and oxygen mask would be right on the ceiling of the lower deck. The raised platform would have a door on the side, accessible from the isle. This would open to an under-floor storage compartment the same size as the overhead storage compartment of the upper deck. Under-seat storage would be the same. So the lower deck would have the same storage per person as the upper deck.

The Shuttle mid-deck has the galley, bathroom, and 3 seats. The flight deck has seats for the pilot, co-pilot, and two back seats for additional astronauts. The passenger module would have one airline bathroom, so together with the mid-deck bathroom, that's a total of two. The 3 seats in the mid-deck would be used for stewardesses (flight attendants). The two flight deck back seats could be used for two more flight attendants, or mission specialists, or just left as "jump seats" like an airliner.

Shuttle life support is sized for 7 astronauts, so crew in the flight deck and mid-deck. This passenger module would have to provide its own life support. That's why I mention space between Shuttle cargo bay ribs. I thought to put additional oxygen bottles and even lithium hydroxide canisters there. Part of the passenger module, but lumps dangling below the cylinder to fit between Shuttle ribs. Well, looking at Shuttle plans in more detail, the majority of those spaces were already used. They were used for oxygen bottles for Shuttle, and similar equipment. Oops.

Calculating size: 13 rows, 2 seats either side of the isle, that's 4 seats per row, so 13*4 = 52 seats per deck. With 2 decks, that 104 passengers. Now that is on par with a commercial airliner. However, I tried yesterday and today I tried to google images of airline seating plans, showing cross section of the fuselage. This would show seats, isle, and overhead storage bins. The multipurpose logistics module neatly fit in Shuttle's cargo hold, it was 15 feet diameter. I didn't find any airline aircraft that exactly matches that. Narrow body aircraft are narrower, and wide body aircraft are wider. This is an awkward in-between size. But it's wider than a Boeing 737. The outside fuselage width of a 737 is 12 feet 4 inches. And that has 3 economy class seats on each side of the isle. Oh! So this module is larger than I thought. In fact, with 15 feet width, it could accommodate 3 business class seats on each side of the isle. That's important because life support would have to be within the cylinder. So shorten to 11 rows for each deck, with life support in the back. You make it 10 rows, with business class leg room. However, I still mean seats like a 737, not "pods" like a 777. So 3 seats on each side of the isle means 6 seats per isle, 10 rows, 2 decks: 6*10*2=120 seats. That still means more total seats.

Obviously this passenger pod would not have any windows. It would be inside the cargo hold, so any windows would only see cargo hold walls. Each seat back would have a flat screen display, you could use it to display video of your own launch. The Shuttle would include a high resolution "smart phone" camera mounted on the dashboard of the flight deck, lookout out through the windshield. So you could watch the same view the pilot sees. Or other small cameras mounted strategically around the Shuttle.

It used to be common that airlines had a flat screen display built into the seat in front of you. I read that has been discarded because so many people fly with a laptop or smart phone. However, with no window, you would still want something to view. And during launch passengers will want to see something, but you don't want loose laptops during Shuttle launch. So this passenger module would need displays.
jetblue.jpg

The launch pad was designed to allow cargo to be inserted into the Shuttle cargo hold on the launch pad. So passengers could get into their seats, and strap on their seat belts while on the ground and horizontal. The module would be lifted by crane to the shuttle, and inserted into the cargo bay. Yea, that means lifting the module with passengers inside. The alternative is building a ladder into the floor of the isle, and asking passengers to climb down that ladder the full length of the module. That's almost the full length of the cargo bay. Shuttle astronauts did get in while the Shuttle was on the pad. But they climbed within the mid-deck, and flight deck, not the cargo bay. If you put a bulkhead in front of the front row, and back wall separating the passenger compartment from life support, that means 10 rows. JAL airlines has 97cm (38 inch) seat pitch for domestic flights. "Seat pitch" means length from the back of your seat to the back of the next seat in front of you. Economy class seat pitch could be 28 to 31 inches depending on airline. With 10 rows at 97cm that's 9.7 metres (31 feet 10 inches) from front bulkhead to back wall. Quite a fall. Do you want passengers climbing down a vertical ladder that high?
launchpad_rig.jpg

Next thing is an orbital hotel as destination. With 120 passengers, each with no checked luggage but 2 pieces of carry-on luggage. One in the overhead bin, one beneath the seat.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2016-03-10 12:24:00)

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#2 2016-03-07 13:47:48

kbd512
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

You need a lift vehicle that takes off horizontally.  A number of studies were done to determine the feasibility of HTHL.  The most realistic design was Star Raker.  That vehicle could hold as many people as a jumbo jet.

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#3 2016-03-07 14:25:19

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

Could have been done with Shuttle. But we don't have it anymore. icon_cry.gif

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#4 2016-03-07 18:25:57

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,557

Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

Much like the ISS topic on what can we do with it once partners and Nasa say we are done with it but not throwing into the ocean we as a group that that for the money that we should repurpose it.

There was a shuttle topic to the same end and I am not sure if it survived...

Using it as a commercial carrier was one of those on the back of the napkin discusion.....

Edit: found it.....

Using the Space Shuttle in some way?

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#5 2016-03-08 20:02:17

kbd512
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

We're going to wait an entire decade before a flight certified spacecraft or launch vehicle is available and there's no guarantee that our next President or Congress won't kill Orion and SLS.  Put the orbiters back together and use them for what they were designed to do or store them at KSC for future use.  In the end, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing will ensure that Orion and SLS cost just as much as the Space Shuttle, if not more.  So much for all the malarkey about how the STS program prevented us from going anywhere beyond LEO.

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#6 2016-03-09 00:21:57

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

I'm not sure what to say. I definitely wanted to see the Shuttles continue to fly. They weren't what NASA wanted in 1968, but were good ships. Contractors went out of their way to ensure constantly increasing cost. NASA and the Air Force noticed this, and identified this as a problem, but were unable to stop it. After the Columbia accident, there was a 50% per-launch cost increase. This should have been a one-time cost to address issues, but contractors ensured this was on-going. These costs meant Shuttle was no longer viable.

The Flight Service Structure has been dismantled, chopped into pieces. It's scrap. Pad A has been converted to use by Falcon Heavy. Pad B has been converted for SLS.

Remaining orbiters have been stripped of all engines: main engines, OMS, and RCS. Main engines will be used for SLS. Stripped orbiters have been sent to museums. Could orbiters be rescued and reassembled? Yes. Launch pad B is now a "clean pad". Saturn V used a service structure mounted on the mobile launcher. That was removed when it was converted for Shuttle use, it was renamed "Mobile Launch Plantform" because it was just a plantform, no tower. Pad B is now intended to service multiple launch vehicles, so could still launch Shuttle. However, without a Flight Service Structure (static and rotating), it would require some sort of mobile service structure. At least something to carry propellant fill hoses, and elevator for astronauts. I believe the Saturn V service structure removed from 2 of the 3 mobile launchers were converted to the Static Service Structures on the pads. The tower used to launch Apollo 11 was chopped into pieces and left to rust in the grass. Museum people wanted to restore it as a museum display. Could one of these 3 be restored as a tower on a mobile launcher? Configured for Shuttle? Possibly. But it would be a lot of work. Expect Old Space contractors to demand brand new everything, and to charge even more than per-launch cost of the last year Shuttle flew.

Boosters for SLS Block 2B haven't been selected yet. Multiple news announcements said the Advanced Booster Competition would be held in 2015. That year has come and gone, and no decision announced. If they go with liquid booster, Shuttle could use it. NASA wanted liquid boosters for Shuttle for as long as there was a Shuttle. And these boosters will be more powerful than 4-segment boosters. That should be enough increased thrust to envelop external tank insulation in plastic film. I suggested that on this forum after Columbia. NASA responded by saying it would add too much launch mass. But could advanced liquid boosters compensate for that? With no O-rings, a Challenger accident would be impossible. With foam enveloped in plastic film, a Columbia accident would be impossible too. Safe enough for passengers?

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#7 2016-03-09 02:20:48

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,995

Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

RobertDyck wrote:

I'm not sure what to say. I definitely wanted to see the Shuttles continue to fly. They weren't what NASA wanted in 1968, but were good ships. Contractors went out of their way to ensure constantly increasing cost. NASA and the Air Force noticed this, and identified this as a problem, but were unable to stop it. After the Columbia accident, there was a 50% per-launch cost increase. This should have been a one-time cost to address issues, but contractors ensured this was on-going. These costs meant Shuttle was no longer viable.

Just dreaming here:

Re-write the flight software in C
Refit modern avionics and cockpit instrumentation using technology development from the Orion program
Install the improved fuel cells
Develop robots for orbiter parts inventory handling the same way the Anniston Depot uses robots for M1 tank parts inventory handling
Develop a robot for TPS inspection and repair
Develop a mobile crane for orbiter mating
Upgrade the orbiter landing gear to enable return of heavier payloads
Pay Scaled Composites to develop a variant of StratoLaunch that can return the orbiters to KSC in a single flight
Pay ATK to develop expendable SRB's with composite casings with a single O-ring design
Pay Boeing to develop composite tanks for the ET
Use polymer aerogel SOFI on the ET

If we do all that, I think we can get the marginal flight costs in the $200M range.  It's clearly not competitive with a Falcon Heavy or Vulcan, but it can recover 4 RS-25's from a SLS flight if the core stage makes it to orbit.  RS-25's cost $72M per copy, but more importantly each engines is constructed over the course of 2 years.

STS could also take prospective Martians to ISS for transfer to a Mars colony.

With 100 pax, that's only $2M a head.  Not bad for a ride to orbit.  I still haven't figured out the economics for delivery to Mars yet, but you have to get to orbit first.

RobertDyck wrote:

The Flight Service Structure has been dismantled, chopped into pieces. It's scrap. Pad A has been converted to use by Falcon Heavy. Pad B has been converted for SLS.

A mobile and adaptable flight service structure that can service a variety of launch vehicles and payloads is required.

RobertDyck wrote:

Remaining orbiters have been stripped of all engines: main engines, OMS, and RCS. Main engines will be used for SLS. Stripped orbiters have been sent to museums. Could orbiters be rescued and reassembled? Yes. Launch pad B is now a "clean pad". Saturn V used a service structure mounted on the mobile launcher. That was removed when it was converted for Shuttle use, it was renamed "Mobile Launch Plantform" because it was just a plantform, no tower. Pad B is now intended to service multiple launch vehicles, so could still launch Shuttle. However, without a Flight Service Structure (static and rotating), it would require some sort of mobile service structure. At least something to carry propellant fill hoses, and elevator for astronauts. I believe the Saturn V service structure removed from 2 of the 3 mobile launchers were converted to the Static Service Structures on the pads. The tower used to launch Apollo 11 was chopped into pieces and left to rust in the grass. Museum people wanted to restore it as a museum display. Could one of these 3 be restored as a tower on a mobile launcher? Configured for Shuttle? Possibly. But it would be a lot of work. Expect Old Space contractors to demand brand new everything, and to charge even more than per-launch cost of the last year Shuttle flew.

See above.

RobertDyck wrote:

Boosters for SLS Block 2B haven't been selected yet. Multiple news announcements said the Advanced Booster Competition would be held in 2015. That year has come and gone, and no decision announced. If they go with liquid booster, Shuttle could use it. NASA wanted liquid boosters for Shuttle for as long as there was a Shuttle. And these boosters will be more powerful than 4-segment boosters. That should be enough increased thrust to envelop external tank insulation in plastic film. I suggested that on this forum after Columbia. NASA responded by saying it would add too much launch mass. But could advanced liquid boosters compensate for that? With no O-rings, a Challenger accident would be impossible. With foam enveloped in plastic film, a Columbia accident would be impossible too. Safe enough for passengers?

There probably won't be any liquid boosters.  There's no room for the TSM's on the pad.  Advanced solids are good enough, though.  Who wants a smooth ride, anyway?  That's the most fun you're going to have for six months if you're going to Mars.

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#8 2016-03-09 10:11:34

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,697
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

There's no reason a solid cannot be reliable and safe,  as long as you stay away from overly-complex O-ring joints,  and you stay away from putting pooky in the insulation joints.  We've discussed this elsewhere and before,  many times,  on these forums. 

The only knowingly-incurred problem is that once lit,  you simply cannot turn them off.  They will burn to completion,  just like a stick of dynamite,  albeit much slower.  You knowingly accept that to get the "wooden round" simplicity and extreme frontal thrust density of the solid.  It puts the onus on you to design for crew escape from a heavily-thrusted,  accelerating vehicle. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#9 2016-03-09 11:45:57

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,810
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

GW Johnson wrote:

There's no reason a solid cannot be reliable and safe,  as long as you stay away from overly-complex O-ring joints,  and you stay away from putting pooky in the insulation joints.  We've discussed this elsewhere and before,  many times,  on these forums.

Yes, you said that. And the solids were safe enough to return Shuttle to flight. But this discussion is about a passenger module. Would solids with a joint of any sort right beside a liquid hydrogen tank be safe enough for over 100 commercial passengers?

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#10 2016-03-09 14:25:01

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
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Posts: 3,697
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

If it was "safe enough" for a 7-crew shuttle,  why not for more on board?  I guess it really boils down to how much risk one wants to take to achieve some end result.  There's still nothing about rocket flight that is really "safe" in the sense most civilians use that word. 

I would think that there is at least as much reason for concern about the turbopump assemblies on the liquid rocket engines of almost any configuration we care to think about.  Those are inherently short-life items.  And if vigilance relaxes (or even if luck just goes bad),  it can fail on the one flight.  The refurbished Russian engines did exactly that to Orbital Science's booster rocket a few months ago.  Fortunately,  no one was aboard. 

As for recovering and refurbishing shuttle airframes,  it might be possible,  but you have to understand,  those airframes were extensively used,  and are at least a little "tired" (metal fatigue).  Both propulsion and working TPS were removed.  Most of the instrumentation is either horribly obsolete,  or has been removed,  or both.  My guess is that all the thrusters and orbital maneuvering engines were removed,  as well. 

My other guess is that a new design from scratch would be crudely the same expense as returning these tired old relics to flight status.  Neither seems very likely to me.  I know of no aircraft put on display that were ever returnable to flight status (there was one partial exception).  Only a few of those in the Arizona boneyard were ever recovered and flown.  A small subset of that subset-not-stripped-for-parts proved re-flyable.

The lone exception was the B-36D that had been on public display in Fort Worth,  Texas.  The public did not do fatal damage to its airframe.  Enough instruments survived to run one engine at a time,  and they ran all 6 R-4360's that way.  But not all 6 at once.  Without enough parts,  the bird was doomed not to ever fly again,  although the potential to fly is still there. 

The only other B-36 still in existence at all,  is the one at the USAF museum,  WPAFB,  Dayton,  Ohio.  That one cannot ever be refurbished.  Its wing spars were cut to move it to its display site.  If things like that were done to the shuttle airframes now on display,  then they will never fly again,  either. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#11 2016-03-09 19:19:19

SpaceNut
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Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,557

Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

The first orbiter, Enterprise, was built for Approach and Landing Tests and had no orbital capability. Four fully operational orbiters were initially built: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Atlantis. Of these, two were lost in mission accidents: Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003, with a total of fourteen astronauts killed. A fifth operational orbiter, Endeavour, was built in 1991 to replace Challenger.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour, the orbiter built to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger, cost approximately $1.7 billion.
Two of the program's 134 flights have ended in tragedy, killing 14 astronauts in all. Recent NASA estimates peg the shuttle program's cost through the end of last year at $209 billion (in 2010 dollars), yielding a per-flight cost of nearly $1.6 billion. And the orbiter fleet never flew more than nine missions in a single year. The average cost to launch a Space Shuttle is about $450 million per mission. With the total used years of NASA's Shuttle Program Cost $209 Billion — Was it Worth It, is a commonly asked question.

That said the current proposed launch system could not ferry this sort of quantity of people (100) to orbit let along back to earth. So recreating a newer improved shuttle is far off the list of to do for Nasa.....

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#12 2016-03-09 20:30:12

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

Announcements at the time claimed that Enterprise was built to be flight hardware. When they completed it, orbiter mass was greater than they expected. It was too heavy to fly. Fixing that required completely redesigning structural members inside the wings. That couldn't be fixed, it required tearing it apart and rebuilding. Rather than trying to fix it, they used it for approach and landing tests. They didn't even bother applying heat shield tiles, just applied paint in the same pattern. So of the original 5 flight orbiters ordered, only 4 were space worthy.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2016-03-09 20:45:18)

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#13 2016-03-10 16:14:55

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

Wikipedia article: Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

In 1988, in the wake of the Challenger accident, NASA procured a surplus 747-100SR from Japan Airlines. Registered N911NA it entered service with NASA in 1990 after undergoing modifications similar to N905NA. It was first used in 1991 to ferry the new shuttle Endeavour from the manufacturers in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center.

Based at the Dryden Flight Research Center within Edwards Air Force Base in California the two aircraft were functionally identical, although N911NA has five upper-deck windows on each side, while N905NA has only two.

Shuttle Carrier N911NA retired on February 8, 2012 after its final mission to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California, and will be used as a source of parts for NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Meanwhile N911NA is being loaned out for display to the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California, beginning in September 2014.

Shuttle Carrier N905NA was used to ferry the retired Shuttles to their respective museums. It returned to the Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards Air Force Base in California after a short flight from Los Angeles International Airport on September 24, 2012. It was intended to join N911NA as a source of spare parts for NASA's SOFIA aircraft. NASA engineers surveyed N905NA and determined that it had few parts usable for SOFIA, and 905 is now intended to be preserved and displayed in Houston. Three former NASA aircraft are on static display in the Houston area - two T-38s at the front entrance of Space Center Houston, and the former NASA KC-135 930 Vomit Comet. In 2013, the Space Center announced plans to display SCA 905 with the mockup shuttle Independence mounted on its back. NASA 905 was erected on site at the space center, having been dismantled and ferried in seven major pieces, (called The Big Move) from Ellington Field, and the replica shuttle was mounted in August 2014.

Sounds like N911NA is still intact.

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#14 2016-03-11 21:48:42

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,557

Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

Well we might not have a shuttle or the Burran to make this happen with but maybe the ISRO to test plane-shaped reusable rocket Currently, the cost of placing 1kg of object in space is about Rs.3 lakh ($5,000) which scientists are hoping can be brought down to about Rs.30,000 ($500).
India will test a small aeroplane-shaped vehicle this year as part of its programme to develop a reusable space launch vehicle to travel up to 70 km and will return. Ya its just a technology demonstrator -- weighing around 1.7 tonnes.....

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#15 2016-03-16 16:55:37

Quaoar
Member
Registered: 2013-12-13
Posts: 420

Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

GW Johnson wrote:

If it was "safe enough" for a 7-crew shuttle,  why not for more on board?  I guess it really boils down to how much risk one wants to take to achieve some end result.  There's still nothing about rocket flight that is really "safe" in the sense most civilians use that word. 

I would think that there is at least as much reason for concern about the turbopump assemblies on the liquid rocket engines of almost any configuration we care to think about.  Those are inherently short-life items.  And if vigilance relaxes (or even if luck just goes bad),  it can fail on the one flight.  The refurbished Russian engines did exactly that to Orbital Science's booster rocket a few months ago.  Fortunately,  no one was aboard. 

GW

Even in expander cycle?

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#16 2016-03-17 11:40:48

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,697
Website

Re: Passenger module for Shuttle

Hi Quaoar:

Yeah,  I'm afraid so. 

All rocket engine turbo-pump assemblies are inherently one-shot or limited-life items,  because the conditions are just so harsh.  A refurbishable/reusable rocket engine will have its turbopump assembly replaced every ,  or every few,  flights.  There's just no way around that....

.... except direct pressure-feed (very heavy tanks),  solids,  or the kind of piston-pump assembly that XCOR has been developing,  which seems to be very effective,  but only pays off in smaller sizes. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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