Boosters on the Boosters & Other Ideas For Improving Space Shuttles

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The Space Shuttle began development in the 1970’s and even before it flew for the first time engineers were developing new ideas to ‘improve’ the Space Shuttle hardware. Expanding its cargo envelope by putting payloads on the external tank, ‘hammerhead’ & ‘lenticular’ fairings, getting rid of the crew section, adding a massive passenger section and of course going full Xzibit and adding mini boosters to the regular boosters.

Most of these pictures come from a review paper published in 2004, after the Columbia disaster, but before Constellation was decided upon.
Shuttle Variations And Derivatives That Never Happened – An Historical Review
Carl F. Ehrlich, Jr. & James A. Martin

  1. Nathan Smith

    2:12 concept art shuttle is running an oil rich mix in its hydrogen oxygen engines!

  2. James Mcenanly

    @ 8:18 They used this set up in the 1979 James Bond movie,”Moonraker” There is something to be said for having a Bond villain running your space program.

  3. Milchael -

    10:24 lol

  4. Gregory Robben

    10:14 Figure 5 did sort of happen/is happening! Hello SNC Dream Chaser

  5. JD vlog

    after watching those designs .. now I wanna play SimpleRockets 2

  6. Zesprit15

    2:00 – Hey. Trans rights. ;-)

  7. Robert Cullins

    8:04 I actually had an idea to do that, it’s not too hard of a stretch to put a full crew cabin back there.

  8. Curator on the internet.

    Looks like the IEnterprise on the right Startrek.

  9. Peter Anderson

    8:30 the technical term is leading edge root extension.

  10. G Rosa

    It’s amazing how much thought was put into modifying the STS when it was never a very good system to begin with.

  11. Vanilla Sunshine

    2:00 that look would definitely turn people off in that day, and now. ewww

  12. The TeKuZa

    This video: How to improve space shuttle?
    Me: Buran.
    This video: How to improve boosters?
    Me: Energia.

  13. Toby Robb

    This was great. Gave me lots of new design techniques. I would love to see a video on low Delta V maneuvers / versus time in space when considering manned modules. Thanks for the great content. I’m Toby Robb.

  14. polygondwanaland

    The best part about Scott Manley talking about mirrors is Scott Manley pronouncing mirror.

  15. Yujia Zhai

    2:24 Moonraker + You Only Live Twice :)

  16. Chas Becht

    4:28 That Catamaran LRB tho.

  17. Anvilshock

    Hahaha, hilarious how they felt it necessary to point out “<- Orbiter" at 0:30. You know, in case anyone was wondering.

  18. Floyd Looney

    8:24 – USS Sardine Can

  19. Nowhereman10

    @2:08 With the mountains in the background, that is clearly a depiction of a Shuttle launch from Vandenburg AFB, not Kennedy Space Center, so yeah, spysat.

  20. dosmastrify

    1:40, well at this point just ditch the shuttle and make the two boosters and the tank the launch vehicle

  21. Chris F

    1:46 and…. demonitized.

  22. Shamila Eresh

    why didn’t they remove the shuttle and put the 3 RS-25
    the engine on the external tank, why did it took so long

  23. Floyd Looney

    5:35 – Almost the Dream Chaser right there

  24. deezynar

    I love the word, “wronger.”

  25. Catavar

    7:10 As an astrophysicist, I approve.

  26. Jeff Vader

    What were these engineers smoking and where can I get some!

  27. Peter XYZ

    The engine-only with tiny wings is cool 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  28. ArticulatedHypernova

    Jokes about New Shepard’s shape will never cease.

  29. Jacke e-is-silent

    That crewed saucer design reminded me more of “Lost in Space”….

  30. Jim Silsby

    8:20 Anyone else remembering how nerve-wracking a launch was when it was just seven astronauts in a shuttle?

  31. fsmoura

    5:15 Lol the chibi shuttle with wing stubs was the best (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

  32. Sunstorm

    10:31 That`s deep

  33. devikwolf

    3:00 BUILD IT IN KSP

  34. Doug Bader

    7:03 “My God, the man’s talking about logic! ” :)

  35. Herbert Boelk

    The crew module for the payload bay remembers me 007 Moonraker

  36. Sheev Palpatine

    I believe the “pre-wing streaks” are called leading edge root extensions.

  37. himssendol

    7:03 I feel this was a perfect alternate history timeline divergence missed opportunity.

  38. Kenneth Irgendwas

    1:50 my opinion: at this point why have the orbiter? just drop that pesky thing and name it the space launch system or something

  39. timskeav

    10:12 kind of resembles that x37 mini shuttle they keep sending up

  40. sulljoh1

    Scott, you’re obsessed with that image! I think we need to find the artist so you can interview him 😂

  41. DepOpt1988

    Fairing on a Shuttle fuel tank…
    *opens KSP*

  42. Kyle Films

    7:03 footage of the U.N. launching the USS Enterprise into space

  43. White Brad Bad

    1:50 – Oh, good. Glad I’m not the only one with a dirty mind.

  44. tariq ahmad

    @Scott Manley have you ever watched Isaac Arthur

  45. c@mbaz

    Who else is reading comments with scott manleys voice???

  46. Cydonian Mystery

    The proposal at 8:04 is literally just the Moonraker shuttle from James Bond

  47. jlb02486

    One word: “Moonraker”!

  48. Marty Karr

    I remember reading somewhere that there was a concept of building a space station from used orbiter tanks the way they did Skylab

  49. Chris Hayes

    8:03 SpaceX’s point-to-point transport 50 years early

  50. Sam Ferguson

    2:00 “Its even wronger when you realize most people refer to the shuttle with female pronouns.”
    That’s what *you* think. :P

  51. Abbreviated Reviews

    8:05 Hey that must be where they got the idea for that ride that have at the Atlantis exist at Kennedy Space Center.

  52. Chad Simplicio

    Thanks for giving me flashbacks of the Bond movie, “Moonraker.”

  53. Anarchy Antz

    I guess when they thought about adding the vibration enhancement after the hammerhead fairing it was one step too far….

  54. Known as

    The bottom one, looks like my average KSP Rocket.

  55. Robert Cullins

    1:50 “…and it begins to look even wronger when you realize people refer to the space shuttle with female pronouns.” Has Scott not heard of G I R L D I C K ?

  56. Stephen Evans

    I love those old concept paintings. I wonder if making NASA art was a good living?

  57. Eo Tunun

    “Proposition for Enlargened Nose Internal Section” is what the modified booster projectshould have been called. ^^)

  58. guzmaekstroem

    5:56 – How can you not talk about those engine shields that are able to close in reentry? Those also look awesome.
    Great vijeeo anyway. Thanks.

  59. Craig Meyer

    Holy crap this is fantastic. Scott you’re a national freaking treasure. Adopted.

  60. Florian Bösch

    This feels like a documentary from an alternate future where Nasa went full Kerbal 😂😂😂

  61. ECN

    I want to know how high a velocity an SRB (the big shuttle boosters) could reach on its own, in space and at ground level. Just out of curiosity 😊

  62. Thijs

    The shuttle with additional people in the cargo bay, reminds me of James Bond: Moonraker :)

  63. Sean McDonough

    4:02 – That, plus many many many _many_ abort scenarios even with the stock shuttle configuration, could have been solved by the simple expedient of putting separation motors on the ET in order to assure its positive separation from the orbiter during an abort.

  64. Theophrastus Bombastus

    Little known story is the fact that the telescope built from the external tank was a cover story the air force created to hide their super secret GUNDAM PROJECT

  65. Jeffery Vahrenkamp

    As much as I loved the space shuttle, these examples just show that it was about like using a RV as your commuter vehicle. In the first example, it would be like using an RV to tow your commuter vehicle to work. Just stick the shuttle engines on the bottom of the external tank…

  66. Gonun

    Why is there always an old design even more ridiculous than what I can come up with in KSP?

  67. TechyBen

    You missed that those liquid boosters, had re-entry shrouds for the engine nozzles… to RETURN! :O

  68. Drake Tamer

    7:10 I see that the USS Enterprise was already under research and development. This should be created in KSP.

  69. Nick Green

    CG is one thing but you cant beat an artist paintings with these things.

  70. Helium Road

    8:10 James Bond called, he wants his Moonraker pictures back.

  71. Ganiscol

    I’ll say it again:
    It needs a Texan riding the external tank screaming “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW!” – that’s easily a boost of 267 extra awesome!

  72. DemoGorgonZola

    7:03 Yes, totally looks like Enterprise from Star Trek.
    …and the Humback version – perfect for the ‘Voyage Home’ mission :)

  73. Edwin chattellon

    About that passenger shuttle, can you make a video about the movie “Moonraker”?

  74. Tyler Pierce

    There needs to be a KSP follow up video to this…

  75. paradigm respawn

    “THE SPICE MUST FLOW!” (@ 2:30)

  76. TheOicyu812

    9:51 – I would have called this design the “Super Guppy” Space Shuttle.

  77. RegalT-type

    At the end of the day most rockets look like wieners.

  78. Papi Uuhmelmehahay

    It’s a shame they didn’t make the longer cargo version, but the biggest shame is that they stopped Apollo short.

  79. Miroslav Milan

    @2:30 – Is it just me or does the Shuttle seem completely superficial in this use case scenario? 🤔
    If you remove it – congratulations, you’ve just invented a rocket again 🤣

  80. Grasshopper K

    Definitely some “You only live twice” stuff going on here…

  81. OK Boomer

    “… still haunts my dreams…” but it worked in Kerbal that’s the important thing!

  82. Rene Schickbauer

    “How to turn your space shuttle into a stretch limo”. I swear, some of those proposals look exactly how Randall Munroe would design them… and he worked for NASA for a time. Hmmmm….

  83. Yukon

    I still don’t know how you find all these crazy dead space concepts lol

  84. a random person

    Left: shuttle
    Right: *s h u t t t t t t l e*

  85. davidf2281

    7:17 I am loving that Enterprise.

  86. Radar O’Reilly

    2:05 I don’t remember any hills like that at the cape, so that must be Vandenberg AFB at SLC-6

  87. Dutch Universe

    That lenticular payload fairing NEEDS to be tested in KSP

  88. Torjus HT

    When your teacher tells you “there are no stupid ideas”.

  89. Brent Keller

    “It’s a hammerhead” -Nasa
    “No, fam. It’s a mushroom tip.” -everyone else
    “Grrrr” -Nasa

  90. stevierv22

    He missed the opportunity to answer you “Hey Stott, it was a good idea but we couldn’t fly safe”

  91. Rev_Logos

    I worked on the Shuttle and early Space Station designs in the 80’s and 90’s. There were two other ideas we looked at. One was to take the External Tank (ET) to orbit and use it as a shell for the space station, where the tanks would be vented and habitation constructed (a bit like Skylab). Another idea added 2 levels of habitation to the bottom of the external tank. Both required taking the ET to orbit though, and the problem with that is the OMS engines could not fire through the CG with the tank attached. And we discovered quickly that any talk of modifying the Shuttle itself was out-of-bounds.

  92. Kris Brooks

    If the payload Bay was empty, then they could have put a fuel tank in the payload Bay to use more of the external tank for payload.

  93. Kiyoshi Kirishima

    The 76 seater version is for carrying troops. You know, for assaulting a super villain’s space station.

  94. 8andahalfby11 EndOfTheEarth

    “So yeah, the former manager of the space shuttle program just popped onto my twitter post to make a comment…”

  95. Ray Ceeya

    OK the Lenticular Fairing is definitely the most Kerbal thing in this video. You got a video idea there Scott.

  96. Dan Stocks

    How many years of bad luck for breaking a 20M mirror?

  97. OK Boomer

    I am SO dissapointed that they didn’t use the giant dong version.

  98. PsychoLucario

    “We gotta put a fairing on top of the shuttle!”
    “…..why don’t we just build a rocket and leave the shuttle on the ground…”
    “Quiet! we’re building shuttles, SHUTTLES not rockets now!”

  99. Игорь Коптелов

    When Kerbal is not “kerbal” enough for real world

  100. Insy Weaver

    Pimp my shuttle: We’ve slapped a payload on top of your payload, so you can deliver while you deliver.

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