NASA Mini-Shuttle


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18 October 2007
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According to Dennis Jenkins' "Space Shuttle" book in 1972 the NASA Flight Research Center proposed a single-seat manned scale down model version of the upcoming Orbiter in order to test the flight envelope between Mach numbers 1 to 5 (and even more).

At that times NASA has choosen the general configuration of the STS (040-C) to issue RFP to several industries (Boeing, Mc Donnell-Douglas, Grumman, North American-Rockwell and Lockheed-Martin) but it would be only in mid 1974 that NAR would issue the semi-final configuration of the STS (3/4) and even after the actual one (5/6). This means that the Mini-Shuttle would be rather different by tha actual one especially in wing configuration, OMS pods and tail, as also for the presence of bubble canopy to help pilot visibility.

The Mini-Shuttle would be a sort of incremental vehicle, exploiting a lot of elements taken by other programs (X 15, Apollo, M2-F3, YF-12, F-4, XF-15 etc.). This sort of "puzzle" space vehicle could use different engine, ranging from XLR-11 to XLR-99 (as much X 15), in order to achieve a various range of velocities and assets.

The proposal was rejected due to economical and political consideration. Unlike Russians (who actually built the unmanned scale down model of Bor-5 to test Buran configuration) the Americans did not performed any test (with the except of ALT flights) of the general STS configuration prior of Columbia's maiden flight in 1981.


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avatar said:
Seems similar to the Mikoyan effort.

With the difference that the MiG 105-11 was a full-scale model respect the Spiral OS, while the Mini-Shuttle is scaled-down in respect of STS.

Anyway even Russians had an incremental approach to the matter, the 105-11 was meant to be subsonic whil the 105-12 was to be supersonic and the 105-13 was to be hypersonic (the lattter two was designed but never built).


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I don't know if it was a real Boeing design or not ?.


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And not related to the mini-Shuttle. M&R ceased publication before the STS program began.
Wow, that's wonderful ! Didn't noticed it six years ago. Good job as usual, Archipeppe. I really appreciate this; it comes at the right time.
In my alternate history (you can read it here > ) the shuttle is cancelled late 1971 but the mini-shuttle makes it through (as a kind of consolation reward).
Then the vehicle, rebranded the X-27 (Lockheed is busy elsewhere, so the CL-1200 doesn't exists), become a X-37 thirty years in advance. B)
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]I wanna thanks XP67_Moonbat and Archibald for the appreciation.[/font]

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]A sort of echo of such project you may find it into the Buck Rogers' pilot when his spacecraft was depicted as a sort of mini Shuttle....[/font]
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