I recently post a question about the space shuttle on aviation.SE. The answer make me think about the frontier between space and aviation for vehicle made to maneuver in both space and atmosphere. In the current example, the part about maneuver in atmosphere using elevons clearly belongs to aviation.SE, and the part about using RCS (not developed in the question but developed in the liked document) in space should belong to space.SE.

My question is: when do a question that may a priori belongs to both space.SE and aviation.SE should be on space.SE?

Of course this is not limited to the US Space Shuttle (I also think of Buran but same question arise when thinking of other vehicle evolving and maneuvering in an atmosphere such as helicopters on Mars)


My take on this.

The Space Shuttle is always a spacecraft, and occasionally a plane. That means pretty much every question you have about it is on-topic here. By contrast, only specific aspects about the shuttle are on-topic at aviation.SE, in most cases that means the landing phase.

If a question is on-topic both places, you should consider where the expertise requires to answer is most likely to be located.

  • Space.SE has expertise on pretty much every aspect specific to the Space Shuttle.
  • Aviation.SE has expertise on aviation in general.

If your question is about aerodynamics, how the shuttle compares to regular planes, landing procedures or communication procedures while flying, you could consider posting it on Aviation.SE. Otherwise, keeping shuttle questions on Space.SE seems beneficial. The question volume is currently 10:1 towards Space.SE too.

For hypothetical questions about flying in alien atmospheres, those are on-topic here. If the question is very focused on the flight dynamics of those situations, I would consider an overlap with Physics.SE more than with Aviation.SE

  • $\begingroup$ +1 ! Ask 'em here! $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 23 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ And what about aerodynamics in thin atmosphere that apply to both mesosphere and alien atmosphere (OK I'm searching the limits of overlaps)? $\endgroup$ – Manu H Apr 24 at 19:28

@Hohmannfan's answer seems right on.

To illustrate those points, here are real world examples of three different space plane questions that have been well-received and answered in Aviation SE. They all involve either landing, or space planes being on top of other aircraft.

All told, there are 26 questions tagged space-shuttle in Aviation SE.


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