64 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
Figure 5.1 Two views of the space shuttle system: the orbiter, the expendable external fuel
tank, and two recoverable solid rocket boosters.
Reprinted from Rogers Commission, 1986.
system. NASA awarded the contract for development of the orbiter and its
main engines to Rockwell International Corporation, the contract for
development of the external tank to Martin Marietta Denver Aerospace,
and the contract for development of the solid rocket boosters to Morton
Thiokol Corporation. Four space shuttle systems were built: the Columbia,
the Discovery, the Atlantis, and the Challenger.
The orbiter is as large as a midsize airline transport and is con-
structed of an aluminum alloy skin stiffened with stringers to form a
shell over frames and bulkheads of aluminum or aluminum alloy. The
major structural sections are the forward fuselage, which encompasses
the pressurized crew compartment; the mid fuselage, which contains the
payload bay; the payload bay doors; the aft fuselage, from which the
main engine nozzles project; and the vertical tail, which splits open
along the trailing edge to provide a speed brake used during entry and
landing. The payload bay is designed to securely hold a wide range of
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