Click on image for full size
Proposed Space Shuttle Improvements
News story originally written on June 23, 1997
NASA is thinking of making a major change to the space shuttle...What is this change?
First-stage boosters that fly back to the launch site unpiloted
Lockheed Martin and Boeing Company will study the possible upgrade. These companies will be responsible for analysis and evaluation of the booster and its engine. This includes building a model of the new booster and wind-tunnel testing that model.
Current solid rocket boosters (SRB's) are attached to the sides of the external tank. The SRB's combined give 5.2 millions pounds of thrust. The SRB's burn out about two minutes after liftoff and are cast off into the ocean. There they are recovered and reconditioned to use on later flights.
The new boosters after separating from the Shuttle would glide for nine minutes. Jet engines would then start and the SRB's would return to Kennedy Space Center, FL unpiloted. The boosters would not look much different than current SRB's, but it is hoped that they would lead to improved safety and performance while reducing costs.
Other principle shuttle components would remain unchanged if the new SRB's were added.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more