Author Topic: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.  (Read 13784 times)

Offline Moe Grills

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The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« on: 10/03/2011 03:19 am »

  The website for a list of the cancelled Space Shuttle missions for the year 1986 has 13 cancelled Shuttle missions listed for that fateful year.
   When the tragic STS-51-L Challenger mission, plus Congressman Nelson's
Shuttle flight earlier that month are counted, you have 15 Space Shuttle missions that MIGHT have taken place if things had been done right.

  What if?....What if NASA designers & engineers had solved the O-ring problem, that had been known as early as 1977, well before the year 1986 had rung in?...Would such a positive hypothetical circumstance have permitted NASA workers to carry out 15 successful Shuttle launches in 1986?
  Remember, KSC employees were worked/working long hours upto seven days a week back then; fatigue could be factored in to engineering issue delays.
   
But assuming they could have pulled off 15 successful Shuttle launches
in 1986, there would have been overlaps with interesting results.

EXAMPLE: STS-61-H (Columbia) planned for launch in June,24,1986
might have stayed up in orbit with seven crew, including the FIRST British astronaut, Nigel Wood, at the same time STS-62-A (Discovery)
might have been launched on July/01/1986, also with seven crew.
And if you add two Soviet cosmonauts in orbit at that time, you
would have had a staggering SIXTEEN people in orbit on that day.

More amazing, STS-62-A (Discovery) would have been launched into polar orbit from VAFB; so two Shuttles would have had very different orbits around the Earth simultaneously.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #1 on: 10/03/2011 03:29 am »
SLC-6 had major issues and the planned flight would not have happened that year as a result.

Offline Archibald

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #2 on: 10/03/2011 06:57 am »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).

So NASA solves the O-ring problem hmm ?
Well, the space agency still lose a shuttle in the following years. That was inevitable, because the O-ring was only the tip of the iceberg. If not a O-ring, then it is a SSME turbopump pushed to 109%. Or some trouble with the Centaur. Or a STS-27 going awry (ie STS-107 a decade and a half earlier - foam hits on the TPS). Or an APU that catch fire before landing. Or something else.

NASA was trapped. They could not withdrawn the shuttle - not after $7 billion spent on it and only five years of operations and all the hype around it. Yet they could neither reach the minimum flight rate they had hoped for - 24 flights a year.
STS-51L was a tragedy, but that's tragedy shook NASA and cleared a lot of nasty things. After that the shuttle was used more *reasonably*, and served well.
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Offline AS-503

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #3 on: 10/03/2011 07:35 am »
The Rogers Commission is the name of the Presidential investigation into the Challenger.

http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/genindex.htm

It clearly states that STS/NASA was headed for a train wreck of more than just keeping up the flight rate.

The flight manifest was too full to properly handle crew training, orbiter processing, reviews etc.

Even without Challenger there was trouble looming for the Space Transportation System.

We will never know all of the possible failure modes of the Shuttle. There were certainly some other possibilities for a LOC/LOM situation than just the 2 well known incidents.

Flying like they were in 1985 (with todays hindsight) was reckless.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #4 on: 10/03/2011 12:41 pm »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).

Wasn't it Ulysses? They both required a Jupiter window.
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Offline Jim

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #5 on: 10/03/2011 02:21 pm »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).


Ulysses.  The orbiters would been in orbit at the same time

Offline alk3997

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #6 on: 10/03/2011 02:37 pm »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).


Ulysses.  The orbiters would been in orbit at the same time

Rookie, you surprised me.  You don't usually make factual mistakes.

Mission STS-61-F with Ulysses would have launched on 5/15/86 and landed on 5/19/86 after a 4 day mission.  STS-61G was to be launched on 5/20/86 and would have landed on 5/24/86 after deploying Galileo on its Centaur.

So, the first mission would have been over before the second mission launched.  MCC could not handle two flights at the same time in that timeframe.  Even the HST CSCS would have been tricky to handle in late 2000s with two orbiters and that was 20+ years later.

The source for this information is the Space Transportation System - Space Shuttle Payload Flight Assignment booklet from November 1985 as sent out by NASA HQ's Customer Services Division to the media reps.


Andy
« Last Edit: 10/03/2011 06:11 pm by alk3997 »

Offline Jim

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #7 on: 10/03/2011 02:49 pm »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).


Ulysses.  The orbiters would been in orbit at the same time

Rookie, you surprised me.  You don't usually make factual mistakes.

Mission STS-61-F with Ulysses would have launched on 5/15/86 and landed on 5/19/86 after a 4 day mission.  STS-61G was to be launched on 5/20/86 and would have landed on 5/24/86 after deploying Galileo on its Centaur.

So, the first mission would have been over before the second mission launched.  MCC could not handle two flights at the same time in that timeframe.  Even the HST CSCS would have been tricky to handle in late 2000s with two orbiters and that was 20+ years later.

The source for this information is the Space Transportation System - Space Shuttle Payload Flight Assignment booklet from November 1985 as sent out by NASA HQ's Customer Services Division to the media reps.

Yes, MCC was going to handle two missions because there were scenarios where both missions were in orbit at the same time.  One day weather wave off would have caused overlap.
« Last Edit: 10/03/2011 02:51 pm by Jim »

Offline Targeteer

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #8 on: 10/03/2011 06:05 pm »
The Rogers Commission is the name of the Presidential investigation into the Challenger.

http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/genindex.htm

It clearly states that STS/NASA was headed for a train wreck of more than just keeping up the flight rate.

The flight manifest was too full to properly handle crew training, orbiter processing, reviews etc.

Even without Challenger there was trouble looming for the Space Transportation System.

We will never know all of the possible failure modes of the Shuttle. There were certainly some other possibilities for a LOC/LOM situation than just the 2 well known incidents.

Flying like they were in 1985 (with todays hindsight) was reckless.

Insert reference to a Centaur stage being in the payload bay for both planetary missions here
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Offline alk3997

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #9 on: 10/03/2011 06:15 pm »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).


Ulysses.  The orbiters would been in orbit at the same time

Rookie, you surprised me.  You don't usually make factual mistakes.

Mission STS-61-F with Ulysses would have launched on 5/15/86 and landed on 5/19/86 after a 4 day mission.  STS-61G was to be launched on 5/20/86 and would have landed on 5/24/86 after deploying Galileo on its Centaur.

So, the first mission would have been over before the second mission launched.  MCC could not handle two flights at the same time in that timeframe.  Even the HST CSCS would have been tricky to handle in late 2000s with two orbiters and that was 20+ years later.

The source for this information is the Space Transportation System - Space Shuttle Payload Flight Assignment booklet from November 1985 as sent out by NASA HQ's Customer Services Division to the media reps.

Yes, MCC was going to handle two missions because there were scenarios where both missions were in orbit at the same time.  One day weather wave off would have caused overlap.

I believe the other flight would have been delayed a day.  The window for Jupiter was long enough for Galileo to allow that.

However, do you have some document to back that up? 

While the telemetry included the mission ID and orbiter ID, the MER of that timeframe had no ability to change between the two.  The MCC of that era consisted of long Conrac TV monitors that displayed video of tabular data.  Air to ground would have been a mess since only 1 ATG channel could have been devoted to each flight and usually two were used for a satellite deploy.  We just weren't setup for that, but if you have a source for the info, I'd be happy to look that up.

Offline Jim

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #10 on: 10/03/2011 10:11 pm »
There was also the back-to-back shuttle launches in May 1986 - each shuttle with a planetary probe in the payload bay (can't remember which, Galileo and another one).


Ulysses.  The orbiters would been in orbit at the same time

Rookie, you surprised me.  You don't usually make factual mistakes.

Mission STS-61-F with Ulysses would have launched on 5/15/86 and landed on 5/19/86 after a 4 day mission.  STS-61G was to be launched on 5/20/86 and would have landed on 5/24/86 after deploying Galileo on its Centaur.

So, the first mission would have been over before the second mission launched.  MCC could not handle two flights at the same time in that timeframe.  Even the HST CSCS would have been tricky to handle in late 2000s with two orbiters and that was 20+ years later.

The source for this information is the Space Transportation System - Space Shuttle Payload Flight Assignment booklet from November 1985 as sent out by NASA HQ's Customer Services Division to the media reps.

Yes, MCC was going to handle two missions because there were scenarios where both missions were in orbit at the same time.  One day weather wave off would have caused overlap.

I believe the other flight would have been delayed a day.  The window for Jupiter was long enough for Galileo to allow that.

However, do you have some document to back that up? 

While the telemetry included the mission ID and orbiter ID, the MER of that timeframe had no ability to change between the two.  The MCC of that era consisted of long Conrac TV monitors that displayed video of tabular data.  Air to ground would have been a mess since only 1 ATG channel could have been devoted to each flight and usually two were used for a satellite deploy.  We just weren't setup for that, but if you have a source for the info, I'd be happy to look that up.


No document, just face to face discussions with NSTS personnel in 1985.

Offline Ben E

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #11 on: 10/05/2011 09:39 pm »
When did the Ulysses/Galileo window close? I thought it was early June, so surely the 61G launch would have been postponed a few days if 61F's landing had been waved off due to weather?

Many of the Centaur personnel (biased, perhaps) were confident that the 2 Shuttle launches could have occurred in a matter of a few days. Similar situations had occurred previously, with 16 days between launches already demonstrated twice (51D/51B even achieved this with the SAME pad, whereas 61F/61G would at least have had the benefit of two pads and two parallel processing flows.) Personally, I think they would have flown in a similar fashion to these, with 61F flying at the start of the window and 61G near the end of the window.

I did hear that turning the Shuttle around at Vandenberg was expected to require 8 months, which would probably have eliminated any chance of flying 62B in September.

I doubt they could have flown more than about 10 missions in 1986.


Offline Patchouli

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #12 on: 10/05/2011 10:04 pm »
When did the Ulysses/Galileo window close? I thought it was early June, so surely the 61G launch would have been postponed a few days if 61F's landing had been waved off due to weather?

Many of the Centaur personnel (biased, perhaps) were confident that the 2 Shuttle launches could have occurred in a matter of a few days. Similar situations had occurred previously, with 16 days between launches already demonstrated twice (51D/51B even achieved this with the SAME pad, whereas 61F/61G would at least have had the benefit of two pads and two parallel processing flows.) Personally, I think they would have flown in a similar fashion to these, with 61F flying at the start of the window and 61G near the end of the window.

I did hear that turning the Shuttle around at Vandenberg was expected to require 8 months, which would probably have eliminated any chance of flying 62B in September.

I doubt they could have flown more than about 10 missions in 1986.



It would have been interesting to see two in orbit at once but I have to agree they probably could not have made 15 flights in 1986.

Too many variables including weather.

Offline Ben E

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #13 on: 10/06/2011 06:05 pm »
Also, in his NASA oral history, Bob Parker recalled that weather conditions on the night of 6 March 1986 were even colder than the night before Challenger's launch. How this might have played out, had 51L not been lost is anybody's guess. Perhaps we'd have been talking about the 61E disaster instead.


Offline TFGQ

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #14 on: 10/07/2011 02:13 am »
why didn't they goto the ASRM with the bolted joints by aerojet?


With the 51-L thing is more  like "launch fever" and they got carried away Just my opinion
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Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #15 on: 10/07/2011 03:19 am »
why didn't they goto the ASRM ...

Short-sighted money concerns, pure and simple.  Remember, the ASRM property was already purchased and the manufacturing facility well in the works when the plug was pulled.  That plant became what is now the Decatur Delta IV/Atlas V production facility.

I was an engineer on Space Station Freedom when that happened - it was a huge blow to that project to first, lose the added ASRM launch capacity and second, have to go to the higher ISS orbital inclination from the original optimal SSF inclination.  The original SSF modules were 12 rack spaces in length, and modules were to be launched full-outfitted, not shortened, stripped and built-out piecemeal as actually occurred.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2011 03:19 am by Herb Schaltegger »
Ad astra per aspirin ...

Offline RocketEconomist327

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #16 on: 10/07/2011 03:55 am »
OT

God I love this site.  I hope our NASA vets write a book.  The history you all have is amazing.

Jim recalling face to face discussions from 1985 FTW.

VR
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

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Offline Jim

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #17 on: 10/07/2011 11:15 am »

Short-sighted money concerns, pure and simple.  Remember, the ASRM property was already purchased and the manufacturing facility well in the works when the plug was pulled.  That plant became what is now the Decatur Delta IV/Atlas V production facility.


Actually, it was in Yellow Creek near Iuka, MS.  It became an ATK composites facility.

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #18 on: 10/07/2011 01:32 pm »

Actually, it was in Yellow Creek near Iuka, MS.  It became an ATK composites facility.

Ah, it sucks to get old - it's been 20 years, and snippets of info get conflated into nonsense.  :)  Thanks for that correction, Jim.

Ad astra per aspirin ...

Offline alk3997

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Re: The 15 "planned" 1986 Space Shuttle missions.
« Reply #19 on: 10/07/2011 01:49 pm »
....

I did hear that turning the Shuttle around at Vandenberg was expected to require 8 months, which would probably have eliminated any chance of flying 62B in September.

I doubt they could have flown more than about 10 missions in 1986.



You're all focusing a bit too much on the hardware IMHO.  You forget there was a new operations contractor just starting-up in that timeframe, too.  Actually two new operations contractors (LSOC and RSOC).  I don't know how ready LSOC was, but I know RSOC personnel were still being trained as we went into reflight in 1988.

Remember Shuttle flights weren't just about assembling, rolling and launching.  There were years of work that went into preparing, designing and training for a flight.  If RSOC was just ready in 1988, then where would they have been in 1986?

My own personal opinion has been that if 51L wouldn't have happened, there were still enough other things to cause an accident in 1986.  The pressure on the program to fly more often was larger than the pressure on the program to fly safe, at that time.

As far as the Centaur flights were concerned, there were reasons that only four crew members were to fly on those flights and not all of the reasons had to do with weight reduction (although that was one of the major ones).  You guys are also forgetting that the SSMEs were going to go to 109% of the Centaur flights and those were the phase II SSMEs (not the later Block I or Block IIs).

Andy
« Last Edit: 10/07/2011 01:53 pm by alk3997 »

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