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Shuttle Orbiter
Shuttle Orbiter - Shuttle Orbiter side view

Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,859 bytes. 402 x 158 pixels.



Manufacturer's Designation: OV-101. Class: Manned. Type: Spaceplane. Nation: USA. Manufacturer: Rockwell.

Enterprise, the first Space Shuttle Orbiter, was originally to be named Constitution (in honor of the U.S. Constitution's Bicentennial). However, viewers of the popular TV Science Fiction show Star Trek started a write-in campaign urging the White House to rename the vehicle to Enterprise. Designated, OV-101, the vehicle was rolled out of Rockwell's Air Force Plant 42, Site 1 Palmdale California assembly facility on Sept. 17, 1976. On Jan. 31, 1977, it was transported 36 miles overland from Rockwell's assembly facility to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards Air Force Base for the approach and landing test program.

The nine-month-long ALT program was conducted from February through November 1977 at the Dryden Flight Research Facility and demonstrated that the orbiter could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane, except without power-gliding flight.

Two NASA astronaut crews-Fred Haise and Gordon Fullerton and Joe Engle and Dick Truly-took turns flying the 150,000-pound spacecraft to free-flight landings.

The ALT program involved ground tests and flight tests. The ground tests included taxi tests of the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft with the Enterprise mated atop the SCA to determine structural loads and responses and assess the mated capability in ground handling and control characteristics up to flight takeoff speed. The taxi tests also validated 747 steering and braking with the orbiter attached. A ground test of orbiter systems followed the unmanned captive tests. All orbiter systems were activated as they would be in atmospheric flight. This was the final preparation for the manned captive flight phase.

Five captive flights of the Enterprise mounted atop the SCA with the Enterprise unmanned and Enterprise's systems inert were conducted to assess the structural integrity and performance handling qualities of the mated craft.

Three manned captive flights that followed the five captive flights included an astronaut crew aboard the orbiter operating its flight control systems while the orbiter remained perched atop the SCA. These flights were designed to exercise and evaluate all systems in the flight environment in preparation for the orbiter release (free) flights. They included flutter tests of the mated craft at low and high speed, a separation trajectory test and a dress rehearsal for the first orbiter free flight.


Shuttle OrbiterShuttle Orbiter - Shuttle Orbiter 2 view

Credit: © Mark Wade. 4,696 bytes. 402 x 425 pixels.


In the five free flights the astronaut crew separated the spacecraft from the SCA and maneuvered to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base. In the first four such flights the landing was on a dry lake bed; in the fifth, the landing was on Edwards' main concrete runway under conditions simulating a return from space. The last two free flights were made without the tail cone, which is the spacecraft's configuration during an actual landing from Earth orbit. These flights verified the orbiter's pilot-guided approach and landing capability; demonstrated the orbiter's subsonic terminal area energy management autoland approach capability; and verified the orbiter's subsonic airworthiness, integrated system operation and selected subsystems in preparation for the first manned orbital flight. The flights demonstrated the orbiter's ability to approach and land safely with a minimum gross weight and using several center-of-gravity configurations.

For all of the captive flights and the first three free flights, the orbiter was outfitted with a tail cone covering its aft section to reduce aerodynamic drag and turbulence. The final two free flights were without the tail cone, and the three simulated space shuttle main engines and two orbital maneuvering system engines were exposed aerodynamically.

The final phase of the ALT program prepared the spacecraft for four ferry flights. Fluid systems were drained and purged, the tail cone was reinstalled, and elevon locks were installed. The forward attachment strut was replaced to lower the orbiter's cant from 6 to 3 degrees. This reduces drag to the mated vehicles during the ferry flights.

After the ferry flight tests, OV-101 was returned to the NASA hangar at the Dryden Flight Research Facility and modified for vertical ground vibration tests at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

On March 13, 1978, the Enterprise was ferried atop the SCA to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, where it was mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters and subjected to a series of vertical ground vibration tests. These tested the mated configuration's critical structural dynamic response modes, which were assessed against analytical math models used to design the various element interfaces.


EnterpriseEnterprise - Orbiter "Enterprise" soars above the NASA 747 carrier

Credit: NASA. 25,164 bytes. 622 x 471 pixels.


These were completed in March 1979. On April 10, 1979, the Enterprise was ferried to the Kennedy Space Center. mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters and transported via the mobile launcher platform to Launch Complex 39-A. At Launch Complex 39-A, the Enterprise served as a practice and launch complex fit-check verification tool representing the flight vehicles.

It was ferried back to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility on Aug. 16, 1979, and then returned overland to Rockwell's Palmdale final assembly facility on Oct. 30, 1979. Certain components were refurbished for use on flight vehicles being assembled at Palmdale. The Enterprise was then returned overland to the Dryden Flight Research Facility on Sept. 6, 1981.

During May and June of 1983, Enterprise was ferried to the Paris, France, Air Show, as well as to Germany, Italy, England and Canada, and was returned to the Dryden Flight Research Facility.

In the April-October 1984 time period, Enterprise was ferried to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and to Mobile, Ala. From there it was taken by barge to New Orleans, La., for the United States 1984 World's Fair.

In November 1984 it was ferried to Vandenberg Air Force Base and used as a practice and fit-check verification tool. On May 24, 1985, Enterprise was ferried from Vandenberg Air Force Base to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility.

On Sept. 20, 1985, Enterprise was ferried from Dryden Flight Research Facility to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On Nov. 18, 1985, Enterprise was ferried from the Kennedy Space Center to Dulles Airport, Washington, D.C., and became the property of the Smithsonian Institution. The Enterprise was built as a test vehicle and is not equipped for space flight.

Upgrades and Features

Construction Milestones

07/26/72 Contract Award
06/21/79 Start structural assembly of Crew Module
08/26/74 Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage
05/23/75 Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman
08/24/75 Start of Final Assembly
03/12/75 Completed Final Assembly
09/17/76 Rollout from Palmdale
01/31/77 Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards
04/10/79 Delivery to Kennedy Space Center
Enterprise's Flights:


EnterpriseEnterprise - Orbiter "Enterprise" soars above the NASA 747 carrier

Credit: NASA. 13,469 bytes. 460 x 271 pixels.


Taxi Tests:

1. 02/15/77 (Max speed 89 Mph)
2. 02/15/77 (Max speed 140 Mph)
3. 02/15/77 (Max speed 157 Mph)

Captive-Inactive Flights:


Specification

Craft.Crew Size: 2. Total Length: 37.2 m. Maximum Diameter: 23.8 m. Total Habitable Volume: 71.50 m3. Total Mass: 68,027 kg. Electrical System: Batteries.


Enterprise Chronology


04 June 1974 Shuttle Enterprise assembly starts. Program: STS. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Start structural assembly crew module, Enterprise (OV-101)


26 August 1974 Shuttle Enterprise fuselage assembly starts. Program: STS.

Start structural assembly aft fuselage, Enterprise (OV-101)


27 March 1975 Shuttle Enterprise fuselage complete. Program: STS.
23 May 1975 Enterprise wings complete. Program: STS.

Wings on dock, Palmdale-less elevons, seals and main gear doors-Enterprise (OV-101)


27 May 1975 Enterprise vertical stabilizer complete. Program: STS.

Vertical stabilizer on dock, Palmdale (main fin box only), Enterprise (OV-101)


25 August 1975 Shuttle Enterprise final assembly. Program: STS.

Start final assembly and closeout system installation, Enterprise (OV-101)


05 September 1975 Enterprise aft fuselage complete. Program: STS.

Aft fuselage on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101)


31 October 1975 Enterprise lower fuselage complete. Program: STS.

Lower forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101)



EnterpriseEnterprise - Orbiter "Enterprise" soars above Edwards Air Force Base

Credit: NASA. 24,895 bytes. 592 x 462 pixels.


01 December 1975 Enterprise upper forward fuselage complete. Program: STS.

Upper forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101)


16 January 1976 Crew module on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
03 March 1976 Payload bay doors on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise Program: STS.

Payload bay doors on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101)


12 March 1976 Enterprise final assembly complete. Program: STS. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Complete final assembly and closeout system installation.


15 March 1976 Start functional checkout, Enterprise Program: STS.

Start functional checkout, Enterprise (OV-101).


22 April 1976 Body flap on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
25 June 1976 Complete functional checkout, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
28 June 1976 Start horizontal ground vibration tests Enterprise Program: STS.

Start horizontal ground vibration tests and proof load tests, Enterprise (OV-101)


30 June 1976 SSME dummy set on dock, Palmdale. Program: STS.

SSME dummy set on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101)


23 August 1976 Start Delta F modification, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
27 August 1976 Shuttle Enterprise - dummy OMS pods delivered. Program: STS.

Reaction control system/orbital maneuvering system pods (simulated), approach and landing tests, on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise



EnterpriseEnterprise - Shuttle Orbiter "Enterprise" lands at Edwards AFB after third ALT

Credit: NASA. 23,735 bytes. 621 x 354 pixels.


10 September 1976 Complete Delta F modifications, Enterprise Program: STS.
13 September 1976 Start preparations for first rollout, Enterprise Program: STS.
20 September 1976 Start Delta F retest, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
29 October 1976 Complete Delta F retest, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
26 November 1976 Complete integrated checkout, Enterprise (OV-101) Program: STS.
31 January 1977 Mockup SSME's delivered for Enterprise Program: STS.

Mass simulated SSMEs on dock, Palmdale, Enterprise (OV-101)


07 February 1977 Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft mate Program: STS.

Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft mate start


15 February 1977 Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft mated Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards .

Complete Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft mated


18 February 1977 First inert captive flight Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Conduct first inert captive flight, Edwards (2 hours, 5 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


22 February 1977 Second inert captive flight Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Conduct second inert captive flight, Edwards (3 hours, 13 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)



EnterpriseEnterprise - Orbiter "Enterprise" separates from the NASA 747 carrier

Credit: NASA. 20,197 bytes. 600 x 287 pixels.


25 February 1977 Third inert captive flight Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Conduct third inert captive flight, Edwards (2 hours, 28 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


28 February 1977 Fourth inert captive flight Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Conduct fourth inert captive flight, Edwards (2 hours, 11 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


02 March 1977 Fifth inert captive flight Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Conduct fifth inert captive flight, Edwards (1 hour, 39 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


07 June 1977 Complete integrated checkout of Enterprise Program: STS.

Complete integrated checkout and hot-fire ground test, Edwards, Enterprise (OV-101)


18 June 1977 Enterprise flight 1 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Fullerton, Haise. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

First manned captive active flight. Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft, Edwards (55 minutes, 46 seconds)


28 June 1977 Enterprise flight 2 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Engle, Truly. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.


EnterpriseEnterprise - Orbiter "Enterprise" separates from NASA 747 carrier

Credit: NASA. 24,131 bytes. 614 x 342 pixels.


Second manned captive active flight. Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft, Edwards (1 hour, 2 minutes)
26 July 1977 Enterprise flight 3 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Fullerton, Haise. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Third manned captive active flight. Enterprise (OV-101)/shuttle carrier aircraft, Edwards (59 minutes, 50 seconds)


12 August 1977 Enterprise flight 4 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Fullerton, Haise. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Conduct first free flight, ALT, tail cone on, Edwards (5 minutes, 21 seconds), Enterprise (OV-101), lake bed Runway 17


13 September 1977 Enterprise flight 5 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Engle, Truly. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Second free flight, ALT, tail cone on, Edwards (5 minutes, 28 seconds), Enterprise (OV-101), lake bed Runway 17


23 September 1977 Enterprise flight 6 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Fullerton, Haise. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Third free flight , ALT, tail cone on, Edwards (5 minutes, 34 seconds), Enterprise (OV-101), lake bed Runway 15


12 October 1977 Enterprise flight 7 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Engle, Truly. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Fourth free flight, ALT, first tail cone off, Edwards (2 minutes, 34 seconds), Enterprise (OV-101), lake bed Runway 17


26 October 1977 Enterprise flight 8 Program: STS. Flight Crew: Fullerton, Haise. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Fifth free flight, ALT, final tail cone off, Edwards (2 minutes, 1 second), Enterprise (OV-101), concrete Runway 04


15 November 1977 First ferry flight test, Edwards Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

First ferry flight test, Edwards (3 hours, 21 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


16 November 1977 Second ferry flight test, Edwards Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Second ferry flight test, Edwards (4 hours, 17 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


17 November 1977 Third ferry flight test, Edwards Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Third ferry flight test, Edwards (4 hours, 13 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


18 November 1977 Fourth ferry flight test, Edwards Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Fourth ferry flight test, Edwards (3 hours, 37 minutes), Enterprise (OV-101)


09 December 1977 Complete approach and landing flight tests Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards . Launch Vehicle: Shuttle.

Complete approach and landing flight tests, including ferry flights, Enterprise (OV-101)


12 December 1977 Start mod of Enterprise for ground vibe tests Program: STS.

Start removal for mated vertical ground vibration test modification at Edwards, Enterprise (OV-101)


03 March 1978 Complete modification for mated vibe tests. Program: STS.

Complete modification for mated vertical ground vibration test, Edwards, Enterprise (OV-101)


10 March 1978 Ferry Enterprise from Edwards to Texas. Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards .

Ferry Enterprise (OV-101) atop shuttle carrier aircraft from Edwards to Ellington Air Force Base, Texas (approximately 3 hours, 38 min)


13 March 1978 Ferry Enterprise from Texas to Huntsville Program: STS.

Ferry Enterprise (OV-101) atop shuttle carrier aircraft from Ellington AFB to Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.


30 May 1978 Start Enterprise (OV-101)/ ET mated vibe test Program: STS.

Start Enterprise (OV-101)/ ET mated vertical ground vibration test, MSFC


13 July 1978 Reconfigure from boost to launch, vibe test Program: STS.

Reconfigure from boost to launch, mated vertical ground vibration test, MSFC, Enterprise (OV-101)


26 February 1979 Complete mated vertical ground vibe test program Program: STS.

Complete mated vertical ground vibration test program at MSFC, Enterprise (OV-101)


10 April 1979 Ferry flight, MSFC to KSC Program: STS.

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101) from MSFC to KSC (1 hour, 52 minutes)


18 April 1979 Complete left-hand OMS/RCS Phase I qualification Program: STS.

Complete left-hand OMS/RCS Phase I qualification, WSTF May 1 Enterprise (OV-101)/ ET/SRBs mated on mobile launcher platform,


23 July 1979 First test STS stack move from VAB to LC39A Program: STS. Launch Site: Cape Canaveral .

Enterprise (OV-101), ET, SRBs transported on mobile launcher platform from Launch Complex 39-A to Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC


10 August 1979 Ferry flight, KSC to Atlanta Program: STS.

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), KSC to Atlanta (1 hour, 55 minutes)


11 August 1979 Ferry flight, Atlanta to St. Louis Program: STS.

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), Atlanta to St. Louis (1 hour, 50 minutes)


12 August 1979 Ferry flight, St. Louis to Tulsa Program: STS.

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), St. Louis to Tulsa (1 hour, 35 minutes)


13 August 1979 Ferry flight, Tulsa to Denver Program: STS.

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), Tulsa to Denver (2 hours)


14 August 1979 Ferry flight, Denver to Hill AFB, Ogden, Utah Program: STS.

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), Denver to Hill AFB, Ogden, Utah (1 hour, 30 minutes)


15 August 1979 Ferry flight, Ogden to Vandenberg AFB Program: STS. Launch Site: Vandenberg .

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), Ogden to Vandenberg AFB (2 hours, 20 minutes)


16 August 1979 Ferry flight, Vandenberg AFB to Edwards Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards .

Ferry flight, shuttle carrier aircraft/Enterprise (OV-101), Vandenberg AFB to Edwards (1 hour, 10 minutes)


23 August 1979 Enterprise / shuttle carrier demate, Edwards Program: STS. Launch Site: Edwards .

Enterprise (OV-101)/ shuttle carrier demate, Edwards


16 November 1984 The Space Shuttle orbiter Enterprise arrives Program: STS. Launch Site: Vandenberg .

The Space Shuttle orbiter Enterprise arrived at Vandenberg AFB for a series of facility verification tests.



Bibliography:



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .