Costs of Shuttle

T.Neo

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We pretty much all know that STS is costly to launch and refurbish. However, lately I have been wondering where most of this cost lies. How much, reletively speaking, lies in;

TPS repair?
Refurbishing the SSMEs?
General after-flight maintainance?
Payload handling?
ET construction?
SRB recovery and refurbishment?
Stacking in the VAB?
Pad operations including rollout and tanking?
On orbit operations?
Ground handling and 'safing' after return to Earth?

Furthermore, if you were to redesign or "redo" STS, what would you do to reduce the costs of the reuse cycle?
 

garyw

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Whilst each of those does have a cost associated with it I understand that cost of the Shuttle fleet is about $1.5 Billion a year and that's independant of flying them. There is a certain cost in keeping all of the above kit hangining around and maintained.
 

Wishbone

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To put it another way: you have 1 billion dollars available for streamlining one of the phases listed by T.Neo, which area would be the first candidate with the biggest potential of cost reduction? (you could do that starting with one dollar, but minimum investment scale effects would be promptly pointed at).
 

garyw

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What do you mean by streamlining? Any change you make to existing procedures really needs to be scrutinized. Sure, you can say a few thousand dollars by changing a process but that change could cost you a lot more later on.
 

Wishbone

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Sure, I should have stated that the existing safety threshold is kept at its current level (not that I agree with the value). Verification and validation of the change in the process is by and large independent of the exact area to be changed (same number of reviews), while the actual cost-savings differ across the areas. It is statistically highly improbable (p->0) that every area has equal cost-cutting potential, just like it is improbable for me to hit the ideal line with a dart.
 

T.Neo

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Whilst each of those does have a cost associated with it I understand that cost of the Shuttle fleet is about $1.5 Billion a year and that's independant of flying them. There is a certain cost in keeping all of the above kit hangining around and maintained.

I was not asking about NASA's "upkeep costs" for the Shuttle program, but rather what makes up the "flight-cycle" costs.

Though upkeep costs are relevant too... what makes up the majority of those?
 

garyw

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flight cycle costs include upkeep. If you don't maintain the equipment, you can't fly so it's all inter-related.
 

T.Neo

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Of course, but there is a difference between refurbishing and readying all the equipment for flight and just maintainance and making sure all the flight and ground infrastructure is in operable and safe condition.

In practice though, the two are generally going on at the same time.

I guess my original question was more technical than statistics related, it was more centered on the actual hardware and how much money needs to be dedicated on it and where after every flight, rather than the annual cost of the shuttle program in general.
 

Wishbone

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Those mythical man-hours, right?
 

T.Neo

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The mythical man-hours, yes. But the cost of those man-hours.
 

Wishbone

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TPS costs are supposed to be described here:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20040095922_2004100223.pdf

My connexion is dastardly slow, and NTRS main web page huge beyond any limit...

The above mentioned file cites: Morris W, D., White, N. H., & Ebeling, C. E. 1996, Analysis of Shuttle Orbiter Reliability and Maintainability Data for Conceptual Studies, AIAA 96-4245.


... when all else fails ask the CiteSeerX...
 
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Wishbone

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Attaching the table with data from Shuttle flights up to 1996 IIRC.

Here's the timehogs (>1 per cent) in terms of flight cycle, planned and unplanned hours (not man-hours!):
Fuselage TPS - 24.45%
Wing TPS - 13.09%
SSME - 7.64%
OMS - 5.04%
Fuselage, aft - 4.24%
RCS/TVC - 3.93%
TPS (general) - 3.86%
Landing gear - 3.40%
Fuselage PV&D - 2.28%
Crew equipment - 2.13%
Structural dynamics/structures - 2.03%
Thermal control system - 1.97%
APU - 1.59%
Fuselage, mid - 1.54%
Instrumentation (operational) - 1.45%
Crew module - 1.44%
Purge, vent and drain - 1.35%
Pyrotechnics and range safety - 1.34%
Hydraulics - 1.31%
Interconnecting wiring - 1.29%
Electrical power generation - 1.19%
Attachment/separation - 1.15%
Vertical stabilizer TPS - 1.14%
Active thermal control - 1.04%

Since I have no task flow chart at hand, cannot tell what of the above could be in the critical path, but TPS is the most likely candidate.

In terms of man-hours and hence labor costs, the following results are evident:

Fuselage TPS - 20.09%
Wing TPS - 13.52%
Main propulsion - 8.85%
Thermal protection system (general) - 5.51%
Orbiter maneuvering - 4.98%
Landing gear - 4.94%
Fuselage, aft - 4.12%
Reaction control/TVC - 3.27%
Crew equipment - 2.79%
Structural dynamics/structures - 2.19%
Thermal control system - 2.15%
Fuselage, mid - 1.93%
Fuselage PV&D - 1.62%
Instrumentation (operational) - 1.60%
Crew module - 1.51%
Electrical power generation - 1.42%
Auxiliary power unit - 1.40%
Pyrotechnics and range safety - 1.40%
Payload bay doors - 1.35%
Payload retention/deployment - 1.26%
Purge, vent and drain - 1.18%
Hydraulics - 1.14%
Interconnecting wiring - 1.05%
Fuselage, upper forward - 1.02%
Active thermal control - 1.01%
 

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