Milestone-Proposal:Shuttle Training Aircraft

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Docket #:

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Actions" in the toolbar above, then "Edit with form". At the bottom of the form, check the box that says "Submit this proposal to the IEEE History Committee for review. Only check this when the proposal is finished" and save the page.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? No

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? No

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? No

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? No

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1976 - 2011

Title of the proposed milestone:

Shuttle Training Aircraft N946NA, 1976 - 2011

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

N946NA, the first of four Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) produced by Grumman Aerospace Corporation and Sperry Flight Systems, began flight testing in 1976. Additional flight surfaces and a model-following computer gave the Gulfstream II the flight characteristics of the Space Shuttle. Shuttle pilots completed over 1000 STA landings before landing a shuttle. After 12,000 hours of flight, N946NA retired at the Texas Air and Space Museum in Amarillo.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Region 6 -Texas or Arizona. Awaiting response from NASA person who oversaw matters concerning the STA fleet.

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Steve Warford
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

TBD - Based on decision to place in Texas or Arizona

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. TBD

Are the original buildings extant?

Yes, if placed in Arizona. Not applicable if placed in Texas.

Details of the plaque mounting:

TBD - Based on selection of site.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?


Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Honeywell in AZ. TBD in Texas

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

The Space Shuttle program and vehicle grew out of NASA's 1969 Space Transportation System (STS) which was charged with producing a low-earth orbit reusable spacecraft. Early shuttle missions were confined to orbital flights with experiments taking place within the Space Lab module within the shuttle cargo bay, or other specialized equipment, such as the Hubbel Telescope, that would be operated with the cargo bay doors open. With the advent of the Soviet space station MIR, the shuttle was used to install a docking port on MIR and participate in station operation. When the MIR station was abandoned, the Shuttle participated in the construction, and operation, of the new International Space Station. The concept, and reality, of a highly reusable transportation and supply vehicle was magnitudes more complex than any previous space craft program. That included a controlled landing on on conventional runways, but at much steeper approach angles and much higher speeds. The Shuttle Training Aircraft was the vehicle that would be used to train the astronauts for actual shuttle landings. A high degree of fidelity in the ability of the STA to give the astronauts a realistic sense of shuttle landings was paramount.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

For American astronauts prior to the Shuttle program, return from space involved a small capsule, entering the atmosphere backwards, with drogue parachutes to reduce the speed, and a water landing to cushion the impact. Recovery of astronauts and capsule required the use of helicopters from naval ships. The shuttle was a completely different bird on return from space - very large, very fast, and dropping out of the sky like a brick with short wings. No engines were available for go-arounds or correcting for short-fall approaches to the runway. The potential and kinetic energy within the terminal area, had to be closely monitored and controlled (TAEM). In the TAEM phase, a closed loop, computer controlled landing was possible, but the astronauts generally took manual control and performed an instrument-augmented landing. The STA was essential to developing these new skills in a shuttle commander prior to their landing the actual shuttle.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

In earlier advancements of powered aircraft, conventional or experimental, the differences in aircraft behavior were incremental, not monumental. The shuttle.......

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).