Page 14-Saturday, August 12, 1978-The Michigan Daily
Orbiter 'Enterprise' steps up space race
By TIMOTHY YAGLE
It was commonly believed that the "space race"
between the United States and the Soviet Union sub-
sided when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon's
chalky surface and uttered the now immortal words,
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for
But in view of the space-bound creations
proliferating in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, it is
clear that the space race continues. The U.S. has been
testing its National Aeronautics and Space Ad-
ministration (NASA)/Rockwell International space
shuttle orbiter "Enterprise."
THE SHIP, NAMED AFTER the one featured in the
television series "Star Trek," will be the first reusable
manned space vehicle capable of shuttling humans or
cargo. A crew of seven will fly the shuttle orbiter a
minimum of 100 missions.
The Soviet shuttle version, according to Western
Europen sources, is called "Albatross," and allegedly
looks similar to the "Enterprise." The delta-winged,
reusable vehicle was designed ten years ago, accor-
ding to Russian space program observers, and has
been called the DC-3 of space flight.
The NASA orbiter and the Soviets' slightly smaller
shuttle have been drop-tested in atmospheric tests to
determine aerodynamic and pilot handling qualities.
The "Albatross" has similar design characterictics
and is slightly lighter than the "Enterprise."
THE SOVIET SHUTTLE orbiter could be launched
with a cargo and crew, and rendezvous with the or-
biting Salyut space station. Following orbital activity,
the shuttle orbiter would re-enter the earth's at-
mosphere and land like an aircraft. Then it would be
reloaded and relaunched.
This new Soviet manned spacecraft program in-
dicates that the Russians are utilizing their technology
to tackle the major engineering challenges involved in
manned, reusable space operations.
The Soviets' need for a reusable manned spacecraft
has been illustrated by the Salyut 6 mission. Aside
from the Salyut 6 station and launcher, this manned
operation consumed four manned, espendable Soyus
vehicles and a manned Soyus-type space vehicle in six
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE Soviet shuttle is cheaper
space operations, because reusable vehicles -will
reduce launch costs, according to Jamtes Oberg, a
leading Soviet space program specialist at Houston's
Johnson Space Center. It will also support a manned
space station and unmanned space satellites, Oberg
One of the Soviets' main problems is payload lifetime
in orbit, according to Oberg. The average orbital
period for satellites and other orbital vehicles is so
varied (a few weeks to ten years).
"It's the most cost effective path for the Soviets,"
Oberg said. "You don't need a super moving van," he
continued. Only "establish a permanently occupied or-
bital station with interchangeable crews," he said.
THE SOVIET SHUTTLE orbiter plans basically
much parallel NASA's goals. The goal is to establish a
"permanent station or shuttle with specialization (per-
forming specialized experiments with the shuttle
specially equipped forthat series of tests).
"Our approach is the most sensible," Oberg pointed
out. If NASA launched a permanently orbiting space
station, "we don't know what we would do with it," he
The purpose of the NASA-ESA (European Space
Agency) "space-lab" is to determine what kind of
equipment is needed and its most effective use for ex-
Once NASA knows what kind of equipment it will
need, it can take space lab modules and assemblea big
one to launch. This could occur as early at 1984. Mean-
while, NASA will simply launch separate space
None of this can happen, however, until the shuttle's
maiden voyable is completed. It is currently slated for
October-December 1979. The main problem with the
shuttle, now at the Marshall Space Flight Center in
Hunstville, Alabama, is the Rocketdyne main engine.
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Saturday, August 12
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