Author Topic: Six OFTs?  (Read 7592 times)

Offline Ben E

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Six OFTs?
« on: 03/05/2011 09:02 PM »
Does anyone know when the decision was made to reduce the number of Shuttle Orbital Flight Tests from 6 to 4?

Also, what were the plans for OFT-5 and OFT-6 in terms of tests, etc?

Lastly, am I right in assuming that the OFT-5 and 6 crews would have been Brand/Overmyer and Weitz/Bobko?

Many thanks.

Offline arkaska

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #1 on: 03/05/2011 09:15 PM »
Does anyone know when the decision was made to reduce the number of Shuttle Orbital Flight Tests from 6 to 4?

According to Jenkins this decision had came into effect in late 1979.

Offline Ben E

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #2 on: 03/05/2011 09:19 PM »
Many thanks for your help. I did read a Flight International report from 21 April 1979, which mentioned four OFTs, with an option of a fifth.

Offline arkaska

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #3 on: 03/05/2011 09:20 PM »
I don't know for sure but I can assume the last 2 was cancelled due to delays to the program. At this time the whole shuttle program was on the verge of being cancelled so they did everything they could to start with operational flights as soon as possible.

Offline Jorge

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #4 on: 03/05/2011 09:24 PM »
I don't know for sure but I can assume the last 2 was cancelled due to delays to the program. At this time the whole shuttle program was on the verge of being cancelled so they did everything they could to start with operational flights as soon as possible.

That doesn't square with the timeline. There was no serious threat of shuttle cancellation after 1977.
JRF

Offline arkaska

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #5 on: 03/05/2011 09:29 PM »

That doesn't square with the timeline. There was no serious threat of shuttle cancellation after 1977.

I guess I misunderstood Jenkins, he wrote that OMB suggested Shuttle program cancellation program in 1979 but is was saved by DoD and when Froscho met with the President in late 1979 the last to OFT's was gone.

But I trust you Jorge over Jenkins since you have insight knowledge that we outsiders have no idea about.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2011 09:30 PM by arkaska »

Offline npuentes

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #6 on: 03/06/2011 01:59 AM »
Does anyone know when the decision was made to reduce the number of Shuttle Orbital Flight Tests from 6 to 4?

Also, what were the plans for OFT-5 and OFT-6 in terms of tests, etc?

Lastly, am I right in assuming that the OFT-5 and 6 crews would have been Brand/Overmyer and Weitz/Bobko?

Many thanks.

I don't know if two man crews for OFT-5 and -6 were ever selected. However, I do recall that STS-4 was at one time slated to get crewed by Brand and Overmyer, who later moved to STS-5 and were replaced by Mattingly and Hartsfield. Cassutt and other experts on this forum may have more details.

Offline Skylab

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #7 on: 03/06/2011 06:10 PM »
Not always ;) the most reliable source, but Wikipedia has this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancelled_Space_Shuttle_missions#STS-1A_.28Columbia.29

Mention 3 to 4 crew members for OFT-5 and -6, basing this on the third edition of Manned Spaceflight (Reginald Turnill, 1978)

Offline Skylon

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #8 on: 03/06/2011 08:59 PM »
Does anyone know when the decision was made to reduce the number of Shuttle Orbital Flight Tests from 6 to 4?

Also, what were the plans for OFT-5 and OFT-6 in terms of tests, etc?

Lastly, am I right in assuming that the OFT-5 and 6 crews would have been Brand/Overmyer and Weitz/Bobko?

Many thanks.

I don't know if two man crews for OFT-5 and -6 were ever selected. However, I do recall that STS-4 was at one time slated to get crewed by Brand and Overmyer, who later moved to STS-5 and were replaced by Mattingly and Hartsfield. Cassutt and other experts on this forum may have more details.

OFT always consisted of four crews. I believe it was assumed OFT-5 and 6 would be flown by the OFT-1 and 2 crews.

I've heard Mattingly got STS-4 because a DoD payload was placed aboard and he was the lead Astronaut for DoD affairs (and an active duty Navy officer, unlike Brand who was a civilian). I guess they didn't want to break up Brand and Overmyer, so Hank Hartsfield became Mattingly's PLT and those two were moved to STS-5.

Offline Jorge

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #9 on: 03/07/2011 03:17 AM »

That doesn't square with the timeline. There was no serious threat of shuttle cancellation after 1977.

I guess I misunderstood Jenkins, he wrote that OMB suggested Shuttle program cancellation program in 1979 but is was saved by DoD and when Froscho met with the President in late 1979 the last to OFT's was gone.

But I trust you Jorge over Jenkins since you have insight knowledge that we outsiders have no idea about.

Don't trust me over Dennis regarding the sequence of events. I just have my doubts over how serious OMB's threat was.
JRF

Offline dbaker

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #10 on: 03/08/2011 05:38 PM »
Just noticed the thread, bit late with this but if still of interest, for what its worth, the following OFT missions evolved during 1976-77:

OFT-1 March 1979. Benign mission with max q at 550psf, 3-day mission at 150nm altitude at 38deg for possible RCS deorbit if necessary, landing at DFRC

OFT-2 July 1979. Five day mission with max q at 600psf, same orbit as OFT-1, with OMS crossfeed tests with attitude inverted, wings perpendicular to surface for most of the flight, mid-point c of g.

OFT-3 September 1979. Seven day mission with max q at 650psf, 80hr tail-first solar soak, 40hr cycle belly-to-sun, 225nm altitude with first RMS tests.

OFT-4 December 1979. Same duration as OFT-3, stringent thermal and c of g tests, solar exposure maximised in different attitudes, high-heat re-entry.

OFT-5 February 1980. As OFT-4 but with IUS for attachment to Skylab testing passive rendezvous capability, station-keeping, radar characterization, etc, first landing at KSC.

OFT-6 March 1980. As OFT-4 orbit but to deploy USAF Teal Ruby satellite, EVA planned, four crewmembers (no assignments) 160nm orbit at 57deg.

Draft flight requirements for the last two missions always were speculative and the dates set for their finalization were July and August 1977. They never appeared in anything other than draft. Of course, common knowledge that teal Ruby (P80-1, designated as such because it was the first USAF mission for 1980, also known as AFP-888) was bumped along a lot (the public was told it was a method of detecting aircraft from space!) but that's a completely different story.

As the program neared the real flight date everything got compressed to offload the DFI and start flying real payloads (bit of an all-up-systems test philosophy here) but there was hot debate as to whether there should be at least two more OFT missions after the fourth. But it stuck at four. Don't get too Sherlock Holmes about this. Plans get made, plans get re-made, plans get dumped! The real story in all this was the fight between Aaron Cohen's guys and the traffic management people at HQ who wanted to start loading payloads. It was all politics of course - all of it within HQ and between the two separate factions at HQ and JSC!!




Offline Jim

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #11 on: 03/08/2011 06:17 PM »

OFT-6 March 1980. As OFT-4 orbit but to deploy USAF Teal Ruby satellite, EVA planned, four crewmembers (no assignments) 160nm orbit at 57deg.

Draft flight requirements for the last two missions always were speculative and the dates set for their finalization were July and August 1977. They never appeared in anything other than draft. Of course, common knowledge that teal Ruby (P80-1, designated as such because it was the first USAF mission for 1980, also known as AFP-888) was bumped along a lot (the public was told it was a method of detecting aircraft from space!) but that's a completely different story.


There is some errors here.   I believe you mean DOD 82-1 which was  the ESS with CIRRIS.

The P80-1 designation for Teal Ruby meant it was the first STP experiment in FY80 that was approved  for a flight mission.  The spacecraft development did not start until after that. 


Offline dbaker

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #12 on: 03/08/2011 08:11 PM »
No sir, Teal Ruby was the manifested MMS prototype for OFT-6 and that program got changed - a lot. Unrealistic expectations were that Teal Ruby would fly in 1980. When the program ran into difficulties it was restructured and got re-designated P80-1 for the first STS launch out of VAFB then was restructured again after Challenger when it was placed in storage but it was canceled in 1988 after being assigned a 1990 launch slot. It had been re-designated as AFP-888 back in 1983. Three generations of the Teal Ruby name.

Offline Jim

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #13 on: 03/08/2011 08:23 PM »
No sir, Teal Ruby was the manifested MMS prototype for OFT-6 and that program got changed - a lot. Unrealistic expectations were that Teal Ruby would fly in 1980. When the program ran into difficulties it was restructured and got re-designated P80-1 for the first STS launch out of VAFB then was restructured again after Challenger when it was placed in storage but it was canceled in 1988 after being assigned a 1990 launch slot. It had been re-designated as AFP-888 back in 1983. Three generations of the Teal Ruby name.

I was in the STP office.  P80-1 is not flight year designation but STP project approval designation.  Teal Ruby as a flight project on a Rockwell provided spacecraft bus was not approved until 1980.  It was only studies until then.  The Teal Ruby on MMS prototype was under a different designation.

The P80-1 designation is not the same as a DOD FY-X designation.

Offline dbaker

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #14 on: 03/09/2011 08:28 AM »
Jim, thanks for that. My explanation was muddied but I remember at HQ we had Teal Ruby pushed as the lead MMS while Rockwell continued to push these app's. The clarity of your explanation is superior to mine!

I recall, and have the doc's, showing that in mid-1977 when Teal Ruby experienced major delays and NASA bumped the mission to the 18th launch, then scheduled as primarily a materials processing flight slated for July 1981, it required the Air Force to pay for payload space rather than get a free ride on an OFT mission. A cynic would say that was one good reason to limit the number of OFT missions!

Were you still at the STP office when it was assigned the initial VAFB mission and then dropped in 1988?

Offline Jim

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #15 on: 03/09/2011 10:27 AM »

Were you still at the STP office when it was assigned the initial VAFB mission and then dropped in 1988?

I was there when STS 62-A was moved to the east coast and became STS-39.

I was at LAAFB from 83 to 88.  From late 85 to when I left for the cape, I worked payload assignments and supported the FAWG from the USAF POV.

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Six OFTs?
« Reply #16 on: 03/13/2011 12:13 AM »
Not always ;) the most reliable source, but Wikipedia has this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancelled_Space_Shuttle_missions#STS-1A_.28Columbia.29

Mention 3 to 4 crew members for OFT-5 and -6, basing this on the third edition of Manned Spaceflight (Reginald Turnill, 1978)

There were four two-man crews _announced_ (A, B, C, D) for the OFTs in March 1978 -- Young-Crippen, Engle-Truly, Haise-Lousma, Brand-Fullerton.  At least two other teams of two were put together, Mattingly-Hartsfield (E crew) and Weitz-Overmyer (F crew), but not announced publicly because there were only four OFTs on the books.  (Indeed, the other astronauts continued working on other assignments, not doing specific mission training.)  As far as I know, no MS were assigned until late in 1981.

The crews got shuffled in summer 1979 when Haise resigned, with Lousma moving up to C commander, Fullerton moving up from the D crew to be Lousma's pilot, and Overmyer moving from F to D with Brand. 

I don't know why Overmyer "jumped" over Hartsfield, except to speculate that Mattingly and Hartsfield were thought to be too compatible a team to break up.... both had worked closely on Apollo 16, for example.

Michael Cassutt

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