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U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle TechnologyViking to Space Shuttle$
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J.D Hunley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813031781

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813031781.001.0001

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The Space Shuttle, 1972–1991

The Space Shuttle, 1972–1991

Chapter:
(p.265) 7 The Space Shuttle, 1972–1991
Source:
U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology
Author(s):

J. D. Hunley

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813031781.003.0008

The space shuttle marked a radical departure from the general pattern of previous launch vehicles. Not only was it, unlike its predecessors, a (mostly) reusable launch vehicle; it was also part spacecraft and part airplane. In the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launch vehicles, astronauts had occupied the payload of the rocket, but astronauts on the shuttle rode in and even piloted from a crew compartment in the launch vehicle itself. Also, the shuttle commander landed the orbiter portion of the craft and did so horizontally on a runway. The orbiter had wings like an airplane and set down on landing gear as airplanes do. Indeed, the very concept of the space shuttle came from the idea of airliners, which were not discarded after each mission the way expendable launch vehicles had been but were refurbished, refueled, and used over and over again, greatly reducing the cost of operations. Because of the multifaceted character of the space shuttle, its antecedents are much more diverse than those of the expendable launch vehicles and missiles discussed in the first volume of this two-volume series and in the rest of this book. This chapter focuses on features most comparable to those of earlier launch vehicles—propulsion, guidance and control, and, to a lesser extent, structure.

Keywords:   space shuttle, rocket technology, space-launch vehicle technology, propulsion, guidance

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