Ten Years After the Columbia Accident – A List of Shuttle-Station Posts
The Space Shuttle was conceived as a way of cheaply ferrying crews and cargo to an Earth-orbiting space station. Shuttle and Station were meant to work together to carry out a well-defined mission, much as the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Module (LM) spacecraft were meant to work together to land astronauts on the moon. Shuttle-Station’s mission was to enable astronauts to conduct long-term research in space. Such research would, it was expected, yield practical benefits, abstract scientific knowledge, improved space technology, experience with the physical and psychological effects of long-duration stays in space, and countermeasures for those effects that would make possible piloted voyages beyond the moon.
A space station had long been seen as an early step into the cosmos. Domestic and international political considerations had, however, preempted space station development in May 1961, when new President John F. Kennedy, smarting from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and continuing Soviet space victories, placed NASA on course for the moon. Up to that time, the Apollo CSM spacecraft had been seen mainly as a miniature space station and a space station ferry.
By mid-1968, with the moon close at hand, it was time to find NASA a new goal so that the expertise and infrastructure developed during Apollo would not be lost. Many in NASA felt that space station development should resume in earnest.
Below is a list of links to Beyond Apollo posts related to Shuttle and Station spanning from 1962 to 1992. Proposed space stations often appear paired with crew and cargo spacecraft other than the Shuttle Orbiter, such as modified Apollo CSMs. The Nixon Administration approved the Shuttle in early 1972, but not the Station it was meant to serve. This placed NASA in the unenviable position of inventing tasks for the Shuttle. Because of this, it sometimes appears coupled with systems for giving it enhanced functionality; for example, a solar power module designed to turn the Shuttle Orbiter into a makeshift space station.
Modular Space Station Evolving from Gemini (1962) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/modular-space-station-evolving-from-gemini-1962/
Apollo Space Freighter (1963) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/apollo-space-freighter-1963/
Before the Fire: Saturn-Apollo Applications (1966) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/before-the-fire/
The Common Space Fleet (1968) - http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/12/the-common-space-fleet-1968/
The LUT, the Shuttle, and the Saturn V S-IC Stage (1969) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/the-lut-the-shuttle-and-the-saturn-v-s-ic-stage-1969/
Fifty-Man Space Base Crew (1970) - http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/fifty-man-space-base-crew-1970/
McDonnell-Douglas Phase B 12-Man Space Station (1970) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/mcdonnell-douglas-phase-b-12-man-space-station-1970/
Canceled: Apollo 15 and Apollo 19 – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/apollo-15-19-cancellations-1970/
A 1971 Plan for an Evolutionary Interim Space Station Program – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/09/interim-space-station-program-1971/
Apollo-Soyuz Shuttle Manipulator Demo (1971-1972) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/apollo-soyuz-shuttle-manipulator-demo-1971-1972/
Skylab-Salyut Space Laboratory (1972) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/skylab-salyut-space-laboratory-1972/
NASA Marshall’s Skylab Reuse Study (1977) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/nasa-marshalls-skylab-reuse-study-1977/
Evolution vs. Revolution: The 1970s Battle Over NASA’s Future – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/evolution-vs-revolution-the-1970s-battle-for-nasas-future-1978/
What Shuttle Should Have Been: The October 1977 Flight Manifest – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/what-shuttle-should-have-been-the-october-1977-flight-manifest/
NASA Tries to PEP Up Shuttle/Spacelab (1981) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/power-extension-package-for-shuttle-1981/
Shuttle with Aft Cargo Carrier (1982) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/shuttle-with-aft-cargo-carrier-1982/
Lunar Base or Space Station? (1983) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/lunar-base-or-space-station-1983/
NASA Johnson Space Center’s Shuttle II (1988) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/nasa-johnson-space-centers-shuttle-ii-1988/
My Close Encounter With Atlantis – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/my-close-encounter-with-atlantis/
Space Station Columbia (1991) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/space-station-columbia-1991/
Landing Soyuz Lifeboats in Australia (1992) – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/landing-soyuz-lifeboats-in-australia-1992/
I research and write about the history of space exploration and space technology with an emphasis on missions and programs planned but not flown (that is, the vast majority of them). My posts are based on more than 30 years of research into spaceflight history. I provide plenty of historical context. I also include lots of crunchy technical details to help the reader envision what might have been - and, in many cases, what might yet be.
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