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Mar27-08, 04:55 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
No, the entire under surface of the space shuttle, which includes its wings, acts as a big aerobrake during the beginning of re-entry. You could, of course, design a system that doesn't require the wings, but remember that ballistic re-entry craft get hotter, experience higher g-forces, and are uncontrollable during re-entry. If the shuttle could be redesigned to behave similarly, it would take longer to slow down, meaning it would start with less deceleration and end with more deceleration - in a denser part of the atmosphere.

Moreover, during liftoff, the wings do not provide a significant fraction of the drag. The SRBs and ET are the bulk of it at first, and once supersonic, the ET is almost all of it.

It really wouldn't provide the benefits you are suggesting.
Ok, little or no reduced drag benefit. Doing away w/ that fragile tiled heat shield still stands though, as does less structural support required for wings that no longer have withstand max Q, and the overall safety benefits of not subjecting the wings to impacts during ascent. Also, I don't follow how the maneuverability gives the shuttle a high alt. re-entry advantage over pure ballistic? I assumed that was all to find a runway.