Lunar Module
All Manned
Space Station
Image Logs
Museum List

Acronym List & Glossary
      • AFB - Air Force Base
      • ASVC - Apollo/Saturn V Center
      • BD - Booster Development
      • BP - Boilerplate
      • CM - Command Module
      • ET - External Tank
      • LJ - Little Joe
      • LM - Lunar Module
      • MA - Mercury Atlas
      • MOL - Manned Orbiting Laboratory
      • MPTA - Main Propulsion Test Article
      • MR - Mercury Redstone
      • NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
      • NASM - National Air and Space Museum
      • OV - Orbiter Vehicle
      • PA - Pad Abort
      • SLC - Space Launch Complex
      • SM - Service Module
      • SRB - Solid Rocket Booster
      • SSME - Space Shuttle Main Engine
      • STS - Space Transportation System
      • TTV- Towed Test Vehicle
      • USAF - United States Air Force
      • TOP


Boilerplate - Test article built to the exact dimension as an original capsule or spacecraft.  Originally built of thick steel (boilerplate), these were used in parachute test drops, water flotation tests, impact tests, launch vehicle tests and recovery practice.  Usually have little interior detail.

Capsule - A vehicle used to place humans into space.  The occupant is nominally a passenger.  While maneuverable in attitude, it does not have the ability to change altitude (except to reenter the atmosphere)

Mock-up - Lower fidelity full size model used to define size and shape and allow preliminary engineering studies.  Often built of wood.  Key sections were sometimes omitted for easier access requirements.

Model - Full-size reproduction, usually of fairly high fidelity, of original vehicle.  Typically built by manufacturer for display in museums and science centers.

Manned - Used to describe vehicles that actually flew with men inside.  Political correct speech has curtailed use of this word.  Example:  NASA’s contractor employee recognition program, Manned Flight Awareness, has been renamed Space Flight Awareness.  Before long they’ll rewrite Armstrong: “One small step for an individual, one giant leap for the conglomerate of individuals in a hierarchically ordered society.”

Module - One section of a spacecraft that may become independent of the rest.

Orbiter - Specifically, that part of the Space Shuttle that reaches and maintains orbit: official name for the Space Shuttle orbiting vehicle.  In 1991, head of Space Shuttle Operations, Robert Crippen, authorized as official use of the term Space Shuttle to describe the Orbiter in NASA documents. (see stack)

Spacecraft - A vehicle used to place humans into space.  The occupant takes on the role of pilot.  A spacecraft is maneuverable in attitude and altitude, increasing or decreasing it’s orbital altitude.  Term may also be applied to unmanned interplanetary vehicles. (see space probe)

Stack - Complete Space Shuttle consisting of two solid rocket motors, and external fuel tank, and an Orbiter.

Space Probe - An instrumented package designed to explore distant planets or moons.  Sometimes referred to as a spacecraft.

Space Shuttle - Vehicle consisting of two solid rocket motors, and external fuel tank, and an Orbiter.  May also be used for the Orbiter vehicle only.

Trainer - Full-scale model with fully equipped interior and/or exterior used by astronauts for ingress/egress training, familiarization and emergency training.  Also used by engineers and technicians for processing and integration training.



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A Field Guide to American Spacecraft
by Jim Gerard