Eight Rejected Shuttle Designs: From Space Zeppelins to Flying Boxes to Cool Deltas
The space shuttle isn't the most graceful design ever (although it can look great in such pictures as the first one here): it's a bit boxy, more akin to an 18-wheeler than a Ferrari.
Everyone's got an idea.
But the idea of a reusable space vehicle presents unique challenges, and NASA had plenty of ideas on how to accomplish it.
Not all were so great. Some would have looked a lot cooler. And some weren't so much rejected designs as they were ideas that people came up with long before the first Apollo mission went up.
So, as the Atlantis continues unpacking supplies and loading space station garbage in the glorious last mission of the shuttle program, here are eight alternative ways the shuttle could have looked.
8. Wernher Von Braun's 1953 concept
Tom Lehrer famously sang of the man who led Nazi Germany's rocket program, "'Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department,' says Wernher von Braun." But as this design clearly shows, Von Braun gave some thought to rockets and how they might come down. At least once he got on the American side.
7. The space zeppelin
All aboard for ComfortSleeper luxury! We're positive if they did a cutaway version of this, it would show be-hatted "space stewardesses" serving coffee to astronauts casually reading ticker-tape printouts.
6. Now this is a Ferrari
This is a design any stick-and-rudder test pilot or daydreaming kid could get behind. We're not sure how effective it would be hauling huge satellites for deployment or the Raffaello cargo bin, however.