[amsat-bb] Re: Shuttle lift?

Matt Bennett kaisermuche at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 6 11:05:44 PST 2007

Hi Bob,
  The orbit that the shuttle travels to is far too low to sustain satellite missions for extended periods of time--especially large satellites. Even a satellite as small as RAFT has a lifetime of only 2-4 months before it will return to the atmosphere (http://www.ew.usna.edu/~bruninga/raft.html). In regards to using the shuttle to boost to a transfer orbit, I'm not sure how much money that would save you in the end when compared to launching it straight to your desired orbit at LEO altitudes, or performing the transfer on your own multi-stage rocket for a geo-synch orbit. It all depends on the cost of the shuttle lift, which George commented was in the millions (??). The Ulysses probe needed the boost from the shuttle for an interplanetary trajectory around the sun, so the transfer orbit it used probably saved an enormous amount of cost for launch. However, it could have easily done the same transfer on its own separate launch vehicle. I wonder if perhaps that was the first
 mission to accomplish a transfer from a shuttle lift? That would certainly provide a lot of motivation to try it...
  More importantly, as you pointed out, is the fact that NASA' s current policy on shuttle lifts is "no go". I attended a conference this summer where Mike Griffin (NASA Administrator) responded specifically to such a question saying that "NASA is not the 'Battlestar Gallactica' of space," and that they should not be relied on for lifts into space with the recent budget cuts and mission focus shifting beyond the station to the moon and mars. 
George Henry <ka3hsw at earthlink.net> wrote:
----- Original Message ----- 
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 9:23 PM
Subject: [amsat-bb] Shuttle lift?

> Hello
> I believe this subject has in the past been thrashed around. Perhaps for 
> some new members it might be worth "rethrashing". The shuttle seems to 
> have a lot of room and our satellites are fairly small. If I recall they 
> (NASA) does not want any satellite with fuel. On Oct 6, 1990 the Ulysses 
> spacecraft was carried into earth orbit, then with the solid-fuel motors 
> put it in a eliptical solar orbit. That was 17 years ago, and the policy 
> has probably changed.
> 73 Bob W7LRD
> Seattle

Fuel or no fuel, they (NASA) also want several million dollars to carry 
anything up there, whether it stays up there or comes back. I don't think 
that the shuttle has ever been an economically viable option for an AMSAT 

George, KA3HSW

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