Broadcast 2827 Davide Sivolella w/co-host Dr. John Jurist

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guests:  Davide Sivolella w/co-host Dr. John Jurist; Topics: The Space Shuttle, its operation, systems & how it flew.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See

We welcomed Davide Sivolella to the show to discuss his book "To Orbit And Back Again: How the Space Shuttle Flew in Space."  Our co-host for this program was Dr. John Jurist.  Mr. Sivolella's nearly 500 page book which took him two years to write is a comprehensive operating manual for the shuttle.  Even astronauts and flight operators that flew and worked shuttle have talked about how they wish they had this book for their manual as they finally understood systems and how they worked.  If you purchase this book through Amazon, please use the Amazon OGLF portal or Smile site so that Amazon will award a percentage of the purchase price to The Space Show.  Check out the large Amazon link on our home page for details about the two ways you can help The Space Show through your Amazon purchases.  Note that as we were approaching the halfway point in the show and our break, we lost our connection to Davide.  We were able to get him back on the line, picking up where we left off as we started the second segment. 

During the first segment of our 1 hour 52 minute discussion, I asked Davide to tell us why he was interested in the shuttle and just how he wrote such a comprehensive and detailed book.  It is an interesting story that will not want to miss.  Following Davide telling us the why and how the book came about, Dr. Jurist asked him about the shuttle's complexity and the compromises that were made in the design between the Air Force and NASA.  We spent much of the first segment talking about the shuttle complexity and design compromises.  One overriding theme presented by Davide suggested that we went two fast in going from an Apollo capsule to something like the shuttle.  We should have advanced in a step by step approach, learning and getting experience along the way.  Had we done that, Davide suggested we would have had a better spacecraft.  Part of this discussion zeroed in on the early NASA attitude coming off the success of Apollo in thinking they could do everything.  Our guest had much to say about this so don't miss his comments.  Let us know your thoughts by posting on TSS blog. 

Returning to the compromises made and the Air Force, Davide had much to say.  He talked about why the shuttle had to launch from Vandenberg AFB, something it never did.  Requiring Vandenberg also required other shuttle design changes.  Later in the segment, Davide and Dr. Jurist exchanged questions and answers about the SMEs, turbo pump design, tank pressurization, exhaust nozzles and more.  Just before we lost the connection with Davide, John asked him about the twang on launch (shuttle stack tilting &rocking back and forth at launch ).  We completed the twang discussion at the top of the second segment. 

We started the second segment of the program by completing the shuttle twang on launch.  Davide provided details about the twang and why it happened.  He also talked about the high degree of maintenance required on the shuttle, the thermal loads and stresses plus upgrades made from time to time. 

Tex from Las Vegas sent in  a question asking about the shuttle primary and backup computer systems.  As you will hear, the shuttle computer systems were complex, they used different software for the primary and backup systems, multiple networking, and redundancy.  Davide had much to say about the computer systems, hardware, and software, plus the different computer teams behind each set of shuttle computers.  He talked about computer system upgrades which might surprise you.

Before the program ended, listeners wanted to know if the technical documents reviewed by Davide contained warnings about shuttle operations in the conditions experienced by Challenger.  Don't miss what Davide said in response to this question.  Another listener wanted to know if NASA and the industry was learning from the shuttle.  Yet another listener asked about the current use of newer designed space capsules.  Before the program ended, Dr. Jurist commented on the shuttle toilet and Davide's basing much of his information on the writings of retired astronaut Mike Mullane from his book.  Mike discussed this in depth in his Space Show program on April 16, 2006.  It was a great interview which all of you should hear.  You can listen to it using  The shuttle toilet, its complicated operations and its early problems, was the last topic in our program.

Both Dr. Jurist and Davide had interesting closing comments.  Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog which is part of this archived program on TSS website.  You can reach our guest or co-host through me.




"The Space Shuttle & How it Flew

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12 Dec 2016 Dr. John Jurist, Davide Sivolella
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