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astronautix.com Shuttle Proposals

Rockwell 1971
Rockwell 1971 - Rockwell 1971 shuttle proposal Isometric

Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,994 bytes. 276 x 197 pixels.


NASA went through a long iterative process in designing and selecting the space shuttle. Initial Phase A concepts were for two stages, both either winged or lifting bodies, both recovered at the launch site for reuse. NASA explored some alternative concepts, including Lockheed's LS200 single orbiter with drop tank, and Chrysler's SERV ballistic single stage to orbit vehicle, before proceeding to Phase B. The Phase B designs were more refined but still used the same two-stage approach. At this point the controversy were over large cross-range winged designs, medium cross-range lifting body designs, and minimal cross-range stub-wing designs. NASA's Faget strongly pushed for the stub-wing design. Eventually the Nixon administration advised NASA that not only were there to be no flights to Mars, no nuclear interplanetary stages, no space station, no more Saturn V's, no orbital transfer vehicle - but there wouldn't be a space shuttle either if NASA couldn't get the development cost down and get the USAF to participate. A USAF requirement was a large cross-range to allow recovery of the orbiter at Vandenberg AFB from polar orbits in the case of abort-once-around scenarios. This drove NASA to the delta wing, and the reduction in development cost led it to throw away the concept of reusing anything but the engines and guidance systems. Instead the shuttle would be boosted by cheap solid fuel boosters and, taking a concept from Lockheed, the propellants would be put in a big expendable drop tank.


Launch Vehicle: Spacemaster. Martin-Marrietta shuttle Phase A design. X-24B type lifting body orbiter with unique catamaran-configuration booster.

Launch Vehicle: Starlifter. Related to Lockheed Shuttle LS200 proposal. X-24B lifting body configuration orbiter with wrap-around drop tank.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle FR-3. General Dynamics shuttle proposal phase A. Unwinged flat-bottom configuration booster and orbiter with V butterfly-tails.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle HCR. McDonnell-Douglas/Martin Marrietta shuttle high cross-range proposal phase B. Swept wing booster, delta wing orbiter.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle LCR. McDonnell-Douglas/Martin Marrietta shuttle low cross-range proposal phase B. Swept-wing booster, Faget straight wing orbiter.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle LS A. Lockheed shuttle proposal phase A. X-24B lifting body orbiter with delta-wing booster.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle MDC. McDonnell-Douglas shuttle proposal phase A. Delta wing first stage and HL-10 lifting body second stage.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle NAR A. Rockwell shuttle proposal phase A. Faget straight-wing low cross range orbiter and booster.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle DC-3. Marshall Spaceflight Center shuttle concept using Faget low cross range stub-winged booster and orbiter.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle R134C. Rockwell/General Dynamics shuttle proposal phase B. Delta wing high-cross range orbiter and booster.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle H33. Grumman/Boeing alternate shuttle proposal. Shuttle orbiter with drop tanks, delta booster.

Launch Vehicle: Shuttle LS200. Lockheed Skunk Works alternate shuttle proposal. X-24B lifting body orbiter with wrap-around external tank.

Launch Vehicle: Saturn Shuttle. A winged recoverable Saturn IC stage was considered instead of solid rocket boosters after the final shuttle design was selected.

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .