By David Hitt
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Extra info for Bold They Rise: The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986
So you have to have some soaring ability. That’s what these large wings are for. The Space Shuttle would have cost much less money. It would cost much less to refurbish each time. Still, it would not be an economic wonder, but it would be economically okay, were it not for these huge wings. Of course, that requirement, in hindsight, was never used, was never needed, but the current Space Shuttle will forever be burdened with these wings. Mattingly also said that the design missions established the capabilities that the Space Shuttle system would need to have.
A second type of mission was defined as deploying a payload on orbit. ” Then there was the idea of a polar mission. Such a mission would involve putting the shuttle in a polar orbit—leaving the launch site and heading into a north–south inclination that would cause it to orbit from one pole to the other. A satellite in polar orbit would be able to fly over any point on the surface of Earth—a valuable capability for intelligence gathering. S. Department of Defense] requirement,” Mattingly said. The original mission, as I recall, was a one-rev mission.
The need for quick, polar missions greatly affected the design of the shuttle, yet interestingly the Space Shuttle never flew a polar-orbit mission. “At face value, that doesn’t seem all that difficult to do,” Mattingly said of the polar-orbit missions, but what it meant was, the shape of the orbiter went from being a very simple lifting body-type shape, with very, very small wings, to a much larger vehicle with delta-shaped wings. I don’t know the exact numbers, but the wings that go to orbit and come home again [make up a large portion of] the weight of the vehicle, and they’re never fully used; only the outermost wingtips are used.
Bold They Rise: The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986 by David Hitt