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Boilerplate Models


First shuttle model was a crude 1/80 orbiter built within 2 days of the first Enterprise drop test in August 1977.
That orbiter made numerous flights on a D12 powered BT-60 piggyback booster. Unfortunately there are no photographs of that first orbiter.

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This 1979 1/110 stack flew as a sport model at NARAM-21. 3.25" diameter ET, BT-55 SRB's, custom turned balsa noses for ET and SRB's. Flew on a single D12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fall 1982, built an R/C orbiter using plans by Luther Hux. 1/72 scale, with slightly oversized wings as per the plan, but built as light as possible. It used a piggyback booster.

Shown here is when, after losing control and crashing with mixed elevon control, a temporary nose was added to test out the use of rudder control for turning.

This model got a proper nose added after the rudder test flights proved to work out.

Rudder control is the best way to steer the orbiter, with elevons used only for pitch.

Matt Steele with 1984 Full stack. New R/C orbiter with scale-sized wings. 4.6" ET, Centuri #20 SRB's. Various vac-formed parts. No SRB sep.

Flew nicely on an Aerotech F15, however the first flight shown above went unstable due to poor stability calculations. Later 1984 flights used Estes-style fins sticking out the back of the SRB's.

Later, however, it was used to work out stability with a single fin on each SRB.

A 1988 boilerplate of about 1/96 scale, using BT-60 SRB's and North Pacific Foam orbiter.

First and LAST atttempt to power a shuttle with engines in SRB's. One D12 did not light exactly in sync with the other, throwing the model to a 45 degree climb as it left the rod. Did not crash, but a close enough call.

 

1/87 model with BT-60 SRB's, in 1991.

This model used an F14 in the ET, but the SRB's had token 13mm A motors in them for cluster points and to eject the SRB chutes. SRB's also sepped, via R/C command (orbiter itself was NOT R/C). Unfortunately, cluster problems arose. Some flights, one or both SRB's did not ignite, allowing them to fall to the ground with no chute ejection. And one flight was a total disaster when the A's lit, but the F14 took awhile. The A's took it up the rod, then it fell down, damaged an aft SRB attachment, then the F14 finally ignited, taking off with one SRB wiggling, going wild and crashing.

Also, it never achieved the goal of finding out if the ET /Orbiter was stable after SRB sep. Every time the SRB's did sep the orbiter came off of the ET (had angled hook attachments, not latches as with the R/C orbiters)

In 1992, built a 1/60 piggyback orbiter to use the new G12 reloads.

The old 1982 piggyback orbiter had crashed a few years before, the piggyback booster chute failed and the orbiter did not come off, as it had no R/C sep. Also it had become to costly to fly on F15 motors.

The 1992 orbiter solved those shortcomings, with R/C sep at any time and reasonable motor cost.


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In late 1994, the old 1/72 1984 boilerplate was redone as an FAI boilerplate, with SRB's to separate after engine burnout.. No flight computer, simple circuits and a VEET-1 timer for ET ejection after orbiter sep. Unfortunately there were problems making the SRB sep mechanisms reliable. Worst of all, it crashed twice due to basic flight problems, one being poor R/C range and the other being far too much elevon throw.
 
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After that, the 1994-95 version was mothballed. It needed time for rethinking and renewed interest.

Renewed interest in the shuttle model came from a number of US Team members at the 1998 WSMC during a dinner with Ian Dowsett.

At NARAM-40 in 1998, the 1994-95 FAI boilerplate was taken out of mothballs and flown.
Photo by Vern Estes.

The NARAM flights finally produced flights where the orbiter stayed with the ET after SRB sep. The ET/Orbiter was stable, though sometimes rolled after SRB sep.
Photo by Vern Estes.

Two months after NARAM-41, a new ET was developed, to solve many of the shortcomings of the 1994 boilerplate. Including the addition of a Flight Computer by Jay Marsh.

The other changes involved chute deployment timers for the SRB's, better SRB sep latches, and even "staging" for the old 1984 orbiter.


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Orbiter had an engine mount for a 13mm A motor added.

Wiring was redone to allow for "remove before flight" style power and arming plugs to be inserted into the positions of the #2 and #3 SSME's.

 


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ET nose is vac-formed, with space for flight computer, batteries, and chute compartment.

The BT-80 chute compartment contains a hollow reuseable piston (far right in photo) with the ejection charges inside. The chutes are all stored inside, firing out the rear of the nose.

The CG needs to be as forward as possible, but adding dead noseweight is not practical due to the weight limit. So, as many necessary ET parts as possible are located in the ET nose.

 


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Intertank area has a servo and two latches for releasing the forward end of the SRB's. Engine mount is removeable for prepping.

1/16" ply disc protects intertank area from damage at ejection, and has a 6 conductor phone jack for electrical connections to the flight computer in the ET nose.

 


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The 29mm engine slides about 3/16" inside the mount, pressing on an internal switch to indicate thrusting. Springs press the engine backwards, spring force has to be enough to push it back againsnt negative G's without pushing it back too early in the tailoff portion of the F25 thrust curve.

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Model uses a C-rail.

Shown at right with 4 remove before flight plugs (power & arm), 2 for the ET nose and 2 for the orbiter.

 


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Photos of the SRB wind-up timers and ejection dowel. When the SRB seps, a restraining rod is pushed out of the way by the timer, allowing it to run. When the disc rotates far enough, a 1/8" dowel is freed, driven up by a rubber band.

SRB chutes are stored in the noses, but to assure the chutes come out there is a spool assembly that fits inside the nose. Chutes are not wrapped to the spool, simply fall free when the spool snaps backwards backwards from the nose.

 


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Photo of the 1/60 piggyback orbiter and FAI 1998 boilerplate

 

 


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