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Model, Space Shuttle, Straight-Wing Low Cross-Range Orbiter Concept

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

NASA used this Space Shuttle orbiter concept model in wind tunnel tests to learn about the flight characteristics of the vehicle's shape. Although the orbiter would spend most of its time in space, its aerodynamic shape would affect its passage through the atmosphere during launch and descent. This straight wing model would have less cross-range maneuverability during final descent; that is, without engine power during the downward glide, it would have to complete its descent very close to a runway. However, straight wings meant a lighter-weight orbiter and less surface heating during reentry. NASA transferred a variety of wind tunnel and concept models to the Museum after settling on the final Space Shuttle design.

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