Originally posted by Griever0311
reply to post by nixie_nox
And this is why the space shuttle needs a nose gun. 30 mike mike contact fuzed HE would be PLENTY to send something flapping off into space.
That's a Really Bad Idea (tm) on several levels.
From an engineering standpoint, such an installation would require a massive rebuild of the entire orbiter. There isn't any spare room in the nose of
the vehicle. Actually, I stand corrected, there is some spare room. You might be able to fit a box of Kleenex into the voids in the nose cap. You
would not, however, have nearly enough room to fit a 30mm cannon (or even a .308 Winchester). While we're rebuilding the nose to accommodate the
cannon, don't forget that we'll need room for the ammo, the ammo feeds, and the expended brass. Speaking of that expended brass, we'll need to
design a system to capture it in zero-G, and make sure that it drifts clear of the breech (and STAYS clear).
While the armorers are redesigning the front of the orbiter to make room for the cannon and its supporting hardware, the rest of the design team can
be rebuilding the aft sections of the orbiter to make room for a lot more maneuvering fuel. We'll need to expend some fuel to counter the recoil of
the gun, or every shot will change our reentry trajectory...*not* a good thing. We'll also need to expend fuel to aim the gun (the technical issues
with making it a turret mount are giving me a nosebleed). Once they've got those chores done, we'll need to beef up the mid-body to take the extra
stress, and then we'll need to either a) massively reduce per-mission payload weight to compensate for several tons of additional mass or b) design
new SSMEs and or SRBs to increase takeoff thrust to get the newer, heavier orbiter into orbit. That will require a new External Tank, and a
reconfiguring of the launch pad support systems.
Whew...assuming we can do all of that, we still have to come up with some way to make sure that, having gotten the Armed Shuttle into orbit, we can
get it back without having reentry heat do horrible things to the muzzle of the gun...but compared to the engineering required to get *to* orbit,
developing and installing a movable ceramic tile "shutter" for the gun port is remarkably simple. (That thudding noise you heard in the background
is my friend, the aerodynamics expert passing out.)
At this point, we'd be better off building a new shuttle (orbiter, boosters, and tank) from scratch, except that there isn't the money in the budget
to get close to doing that.
Assuming (by some miracle) we can get the Armed Shuttle designed and built, it's *still* a bad idea. That 30mm ammunition isn't going away. Let's
say you fired a 3 round burst at a bit of threatening space junk. Even if all three rounds hit, and their contact fusing initiated, you've just
created a very dangerous little cloud of shrapnel that's going to hang around in orbit for a long time....and if one of those rounds *misses*, you
have a potentially shuttle-destroying (or ISS crippling) little kinetic-kill weapon orbiting up there...and just to make life more interesting, it's
too small to be tracked (and to have its orbit plotted) from the ground...making it a really nice surprise for future space missions.
In short, no guns for the Shuttle, please.