05 OCT 2011 by ideonexus

 The Waste of the Shuttle External Tanks

But to grasp just how far our current mindset is from being able to attempt innovation on such a scale, consider the fate of the space shuttle’s external tanks [ETs]. Dwarfing the vehicle itself, the ET was the largest and most prominent feature of the space shuttle as it stood on the pad. It remained attached to the shuttle—or perhaps it makes as much sense to say that the shuttle remained attached to it—long after the two strap-on boosters had fallen away. The ET and the shuttle remai...
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The tanks were allowed to burn up in the atmosphere, but for a slightly increased investment, they could have been left in orbit and used to build an even larger space station.