|Subject: Wow! / Cool. / Hmmm, that's interesting|
Posted May 21, 2010 by Baron Grim
This is a reply to this Posting
|OK... I should really confer with my former supervisor to confirm the numbers, but here's from memory...|
OK... so shortly after a shuttle launches, you see it roll 180 degrees from launch orientation. Now we know that the proper orientation for the shuttle during its assent phase is orbiter down. So why doesn't it launch that way? The short answer is because it would have cost $1billion extra in 1980 to build a dedicated launch pad for the shuttle. Instead they rededicated one of the original Saturn (Apollo) launch pads. Now, keep in mind that the Saturn rockets were round, symmetrical, they had no preferred orientation other than "UP". The Shuttle is semi-asymmetrical, it has an "up" and a "down". If NASA had spent $1billion extra in 1980 for a dedicated launch pad to accommodate the orbiter down orientation of the shuttle it would have saved the equivalent of more than 10,000 pounds of payload capacity in fuel.
In other words, the equivalent of a small satellite per every shuttle launch was burned just to rotate the shuttle because they reused the launch pad from the Apollo era.
Hey, a Billion dollars is still a big number. But averaged over the 30 year life span of the shuttle program,.. A billion dollars seems cheap. Just think about how much it would cost to launch over 100 satellites. That's how much NASA "saved" by reusing an Apollo launch pad.