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(Video) Shuttle Enterprise Separates from 747 In-Flight - 1977

The Space Shuttle Enterprise never flew in space. It was the first Space Shuttle built (completed on September 17, 1976), and was used only for aeronautical flight testing. The Enterprise arrived at Dryden in January 1977 for a flight program involving a Boeing 747 airliner that had been modified for use as a shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA). ( More...

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Philip Clifton 13
The space shuttle orbiter: over thirty years of falling with style.
Beautifully said.
sparkie624 3
Jeffrey Babey 3
My father worked on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program at Honeywell Coon Rapids Minnesota in the 1970's. I grew up surrounded by everything space and aeronautics. Great post :)
Stunning video. Still blown away by the innovation that was done back in the day.
Robert Hirst 3
Wish we would keep at it. It is money better spent than on F35s and other assorted junk that I'd chrome plated and doesn't advance tech or the human condition.
andromeda07 2
SpaceX is taking up that challenge again.
Jim Davies 2
I had the privilege of being able to climb aboard the Enterprise in Houston. Astronaut Jim Irwin was a keynote speaker at a computer conference I was in charge of and invited me to go with him to the space center to deliver some moon rocks that he had. Sat in the seats, looked out in to the bay, etc. Still have the pics from that once in a lifetime experience.
alan75035 2
I remember it well...I was home sick that day and got to watch it live. Hard to believe it's been 38 years. And to think that we're no longer capable of manned spaceflight without buying a ride from the...Russians.
Derek Thomas 1
Space X is coming along pretty well...
ffrcobra1 2
Brings back memories. My dad worked on the shuttle at Rockwell International in Downey and Palmdale, California. We drove up to Edwards to watch it land the first time they cut it loose from the 747. My dad did a lot of wiring in the landing gear system and he about had a heart attack when it kept getting lower and lower and no gear appeared. Finally the gear popped out pretty close to the runway. The test pilots visited the Downey plant a few days later and my dad learn that the last minute gear extension was part of the plan for the flight. Testing ground effect handling characteristics I suppose.
preacher1 1
IDK if they were testing ground effect or not. I watched quite a few of the shuttle landings and it seems like all the gear extensions were low, to the point, shall we say, just about over the fence or flare. Don't guess they wanted the extra drag on the approach. LOL
Marcus Pradel 1
I'm not sure if it's about the extra drag of the gear being extended or just the issue of not blowing the gear/doors off by extending it at 400-500kt.
preacher1 1
I guess either could be a reason. I am just too used to at least a 5 mile or more gear down and that would just make me cringe to see that so low. LOL You always wondered "WHAT IF" but what would it matter. I guess it was 50-50 cause you sure as heck weren't going around.
30west 1
I don't recall the exact number, but I have read that the shuttle flies a very steep glideslope angle in the teens.....18 degrees comes to mind, but not sure. The extra drag if gear were extended at five miles would increase the glideslope angle, maybe to the point that the flare would be too much for the ability to make consistent landings safely while dissipating energy. With no go-around capability, they are either down or not. Land with what you got!
preacher1 1
I know it was steep, and as stated, 50-50 chance. They are either down or not.
Space Shuttle gear were extended explosively as I recall (worked for Rockwell Int. when they were building them). The WENT DOWN! No choice! LOL...
Stan Lawrence 2
My wife was awarded a Silver Snoopy, which is awarded by the astronauts, and a Technology Utilization award for her work as the lead on the flight software for the Enterprise. I remember the day this flight took place.
Will Sutton 1
I followed these tests with special interest. Four NASA pilots, led by AF Colonel Fuller, were chosen to pilot the Enterprise during these earliest tests. Only Col Fuller had time in large aircraft and he proposed training that included time in a KC-135 Flight Sim, followed by flying an actual KC-135. I worked at the Barksdale AFB sim at the time and our location and workload made it easy for the crews to schedule time, flying in from Houston and continuing on to Edwards for the actual flights later. For months we got used to these guys coming in on a Thursday, filling the morning training blocks and this went on for several months. This also led to NASA using our simulator in conjunction with other test programs.
sparkie624 1
Very nice.. Thanks for sharing.
Dan Langille 1
I saw a shuttle on a 747 ( I reckon it was ) at Ottawa airport in the summer of 1980 or 1981. I was working at the high speed wind tunnel for a summer job, and we could see the Shuttle parked across the parking lot.
James Hanley 1
BurntOut 1
Time to
Touchdown speed Alt
- 4:21 M 0.9 54 kft
- 4:00 M 0.7 32 kft
- 2:12 280 kts 15 kft
- 1:14 300 kts 12 kft
- 0:33 300 kts 2 kft
- 0:23 297 kts 500 ft
- 0:20 288 kts 300 ft
- 0:10 261 kts 65 ft

these data are from 1981 (STS-1 : first flight) planning. Things never changed, much.
As was said - Falling with style.

There were 2 glide slopes: PAPI for the steep and Ball/Bar for the inner (shallow). When you don't have go-around option your energy management dictates you come in hot and then dump what you don't need/want. Drag can be your friend. :-)
preacher1 2
Not having that go round option would bother the heck out of me. I guess like anything else in life though, you have a 50-50 chance of gear down.
Toby Sharp 0
I wonder if we would all know the name of the guy who ever gear upped the Enterprise? Which may have gone down as the most expensive gear up in Aviation History.
I drove from the San Fernando Valley at 5 o'clock that morning to watch that test flight no 14 freeway then just the old road pitch dark and cold had a terriffic view of the landing....I remember Britains Prince Charles was a guest there.....


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