1318. Techniques for Space Shuttle Weight Reductions


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R L Benson: 1318. Techniques for Space Shuttle Weight Reductions. 1979.



A pound of weight saved on former space boosters has meant thoant e additional payload could be boosted. On the Space Shuttle Orbiter, a pound of weight saved means that a hundred additional pounds can be boosted into space because the Orbiter is designed for one hundred launches. A lightweight Orbiter has additional advantages in that it is much easier to decelerate and land on return to earth. As with practically all aerospace systems, the Space Shuttle has experienced weight growth during the development phase. NASA and Rockwell International, the Orbiter prime contractor, recognized the undesirable effect that unwanted weight growth would have on the operational costs and payload capacity ofSpace Shuttle. Because of this, General Dynamics Convair Division, as a major subcontractor, was encouraged to incorporate into its design all weight savings which could be shown to be technically acceptable and cost effective. With the support of NASA and Rockwell, General Dynamcis succeeded in not only meeting but beating its assigned weight targets. This report describes in detail the techniques used to achieve Orbiter mid-fuselage weight objectives. Among the items discussed are: improved machining techniques, use of advanced materials, honeycomb skin panel applications, a factory weight control program, and the cost considerations involved.


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