Eight Rejected Shuttle Designs: From Space Zeppelins to Flying Boxes to Cool Deltas

Categories: NASA

shuttlevarious.jpg
Everyone's got an idea.
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.

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.

shuttlevonbraunUSE1953.jpg


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.

shuttlezeppelin.jpg

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.

shuttledelta.jpg

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1601 NASA Road 1 (20 miles south of downtown, Houston, TX

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4 comments
nick1313
nick1313

Great way to edit!  Yes where is number 3? Was there ever a full 8 to start with or were we simply lied to?

foig mctodd
foig mctodd

shut uo dude above no one cares.what really matters is wheres number 3?

ElimG
ElimG

Umm...  Wernher Von Braun did care where the rocket went down.  He didn't have much of a choice during the war.  At one point, after the success of the V2 rocket he said: "The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet."  He got into a lot of trouble just for that.  If he didn't work on the rocket projects during the war he would have been dead.

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