A Conversation for The Physics of Space Shuttle Re-Entry

Garage Research

Post 1

Steve K.

My wife & I used to race small sailboats in Clear Lake, a brackish inlet of Galveston Bay just across the street from NASA's Johnson Spacecraft Center near Houston. (As in "Houston, we have a problem.") One of the other racers was Max Faget, the legendary spacecraft designer for NASA:


During after-race beers, Max would tell us about things like the shuttle, which he said had been partly designed in his garage, using styrofoam models. The problem according to Max was the wide range of "flight regimes" for a single vehicle. As a chemical engineer, I had taken courses on flow of fluids (like air) over shapes (like wings), so I had a vague understanding of the problem. Max said it was the cheapest research NASA ever got.

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