By David Hitt
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Additional resources for Bold They Rise: The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986
At 4. Possible configurations considered for the Space Shuttle, as of 1970. Courtesy nasa. the time we were doing this and putting all these requirements on there, we were actually, I think, quite proud of having had the foresight to look at all of these things. . you’d like it to do that it can’t do. It is an absolutely extraordinary engineering piece, just unbelievable. ” in the beginning | 29 The shuttle went through a variety of widely different configurations during its early development.
Really, I hadn’t paid much attention to it,” Mattingly said of the shuttle program at that point. I kind of knew the work was going on, but I didn’t know what it was, because my ambition had always been—I didn’t think I would go to [walk on] the moon, but I was really hoping that I’d get to be on the Mars mission, which I was sure was going to happen the following year. ” Even by then it was becoming obvious that that wasn’t really a likely proposition. I wasn’t enthused about the shuttle because I still thought going to Mars was the next step.
What has to happen is the computer has to calculate everything precisely, because it’s got to flip it over, have it pointing back to the Cape while it’s flying backwards, so that just before the solid rocket boosters burn out, it stops the backwards downrange travel and starts it flying back to the Cape. And then once that happens, then the solids cut off. They separate; they go their way, and then you fly back for a few minutes, for another six minutes, and the main engines cut off and you separate from the external tank.