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/u/Guysmiley777 on I am Jeff Hoffman, MIT Professor of Aerospace Engineering and former NASA Astronaut. Ask Me Anything!

20 Feb 2015, 20:03 UTC
/u/Guysmiley777 on I am Jeff Hoffman, MIT Professor of Aerospace Engineering and former NASA Astronaut. Ask Me Anything!
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It would have been better if the entire vehicle was in a proper rocket stack making an emergency escape possible in the event of a catastrophic booster failure. The giant wings and 1.5 stage layout were due almost entirely to esoteric requirements put in place by the Air Force (they wanted a 1,000+ mile cross-range capability so they could do a "once around" polar orbit to either deploy or retrieve a spy satellite and then land back at the launch site. A capability that was never used operationally.

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