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Space Shuttle Coordinate System

The space shuttle coordinate reference system is a means of locating specific points on the shuttle. The system is measured in inches and decimal places; Xo designates the longitudinal (forward and aft) axis, Yo the lateral (inboard and outboard) axis and Zo the vertical (up and down) axis. The subscript 'o' indicates orbiter; similar reference systems are used for the external tank (T), solid rocket booster (B), and overall space shuttle system (S).

In each coordinate system, the X-axis zero point is located forward of the nose tip; that is, the orbiter nose tip location is 236 inches aft of the zero point (at Xo 236), the external tank nose cap tip location is at XT 322.5, and the solid rocket booster nose tip location is at XB 200. In the orbiter, the horizontal Xo, Yo reference plane is located at Zo400, which is 336.5 inches above the external tank horizontal XT, YT reference plane located at ZT400. The solid rocket booster horizontal XB, YB reference plane is located at ZB 0 and coincident with the external tank horizontal plane at ZT 400. The solid rocket booster vertical XB, ZT planes are located at + YS 250.5 and -YS 250.5. Also, the orbiter, external tank, and shuttle system center X, Z planes coincide.

From the X = 0 point, aft is positive and forward is negative for all coordinate systems. Looking forward, each shuttle element Y-axis point right of the center plane (starboard) is positive and each Y-axis point left of center (port) is negative. The Z axis of each point within all elements of the shuttle except the SRBs is positive, with Z = 0 located below the element. In the SRBs each Z-coordinate point below the XB, YB reference plane is negative and each point above that plane is positive.

The shuttle system and shuttle element coordinate systems are related as follows: the external tank XT 0 point coincides with XS 0, the SRB XB 0 point is located 543 inches aft, and the Yo, Zo reference plane is 741 inches aft of XS 0.


Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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