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1:1 Space Shuttle
On April 21, 1981, STS Columbia launched for the first time. Just as Yuri Gagarin’s first flight exactly 20 years earlier, Columbia opened up a new era of space flight. The Shuttle provided an unparalleled capability to service satellites in orbit, providing a flexible base of operations for seven astronauts for two weeks in low earth orbit.
It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that without the shuttle we wouldn’t have Hubble, the ISS, and many, many scientific advancements.
- Type: VAB
- Class: spaceplane
- Part Count: 701
- Pure Stock
About the Replica
This craft began about five months ago, as I realized that I was rapidly approaching 100 craft uploads on KerbalX. I wanted something BIG to mark the milestone. This craft went through two major revisions, and countless minor revisions. Of note, this craft wouldn’t be where it is without the help of HB_Stratos, who took my poorly made cargo bay and made it work 100% of the time.
Additionally, this craft deserved a proper craft video. If you skipped over it earlier, please give it a watch, I promise you it’s worth your time.
Make good note of this, you’ll need it.
1.) Throttle to full, enable SAS and stage to launch. If you want to be fancy, use AG 2 and then 1 to stagger the ignition.
2.) Pitch back to continue straight up for 2km, then begin the roll program (180 degrees). Hold Prograde, and tap the roll keys for a second or two at a time, then let it rotate and stabilize before continuing.
3.) Pitch to 20 degrees over at 5km, 45 at 10km. Hold the orbiter-down position until SRB burnout.
4.) Stage to detach the SRBs, use prograde hold here to keep control of the orbiter.
5.) Use the same roll technique to roll the orbiter back on top of the EFT. The EFT should empty shortly before orbit is achieved. Stage it away and use RCS to clear the tank.
6.) Use action groups 3 and 2 to disable the SSMEs and enable the OMS.
7.) Continue to orbit. There should be ~400m/s after achieving a 120x120km orbit.
Theoretically, this shuttle should be able to orbit any payload that fits in its cargo bay, though for heavier payloads it’s harder, as TWR will be below 1 for about 30 seconds immediately after the SRBs detach.
Inside the EFT are a pair of small tanks, full of LFO, but disabled. These are dead weight used to balance the craft. Adjust their position and mass until the Torque on stage 2 (KER is basically required for this) is less than 100kN. Once you’ve done this, adjust the lateral position (front back) of the SRBs until stage 1 torque is also below 100kN.
Operating the cargo bay:
Action group 0 toggles the doors. They are extremely reliable, just don’t time warp as the doors are in motion, and don’t use them in atmosphere.
1.) Lower your orbit to 100km x 100km, and wait for midday at the KSC. If possible, zero your inclination. If this isn’t possible, guranteed that your path will pass over KSC.
2.) Lower your periapsis to 30km, over the landmass across the ocean from KSC. Quicksave before reentry.
3.) Move the ore from the main engine tanks to the nose. This increases stability during reentry.
4.) Prograde hold, and wait for the shuttle to deorbit. This is equal parts luck and skill. Don’t pitch directly, as this makes the craft unstable. Instead, use the deploy options and AG 4 to adjust the lift and drag of the shuttle until you reenter over KSC.
5.) Atmospheric control kicks in once the shuttle hits 900m/s. Pitch into a steep dive (60-70 degrees nose down to line up with the runway.
6.) Pump the ore from the nose back to the engine tanks to increase pitch authority.
7.) Wait until KER reads an impact time of 7 seconds, and begin pitching up hard directly above the runway. The shuttle stalls at 70m/s, so keep your speed up.
8.) Touch down with a level or slight nose-up attitude, at a vertical speed of no more than 8m/s. Use the brake action group and stage once more to deploy the braking chute.