Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Space Science

How To Steal a Space Shuttle 130

An anonymous reader tips a piece by Jason Torchinsky at Jalopnik, who attended the California Science Center's press conference about moving Space Shuttle Endeavour through Los Angeles to its final resting place. While he was there, he noticed that security for the event was focused less on the shuttle than on keeping the city itself safe. So, after a helpful LAPD officer suggested it would be impossible for a supervillain to make off with OV-105, Torchinsky went ahead and made a plan to do just that. All he needs is a submarine, a score of Sikorsky CH-53E heavy-lift helicopters, a salvaged and disguised Buran spaceplane, and the assistance of Switzerland.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How To Steal a Space Shuttle

Comments Filter:
  • by stillnotelf ( 1476907 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @02:58PM (#41561739)
    Surely they wouldn't follow him into space, and it's kind of a supervillian thing to do!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't this be in the "book reviews" section of Slashdot instead of "science"?

    • Also, this is not about space. The only connection to space is that the object that would be stolen has previously been in space, and possibly would be able to go there again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @02:59PM (#41561757)
    Haven't people learned? In this day and age, even joking about stealing/damaging US gov't property can be considered an act of terrorism.
  • CRAP! (Score:4, Funny)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:01PM (#41561775) Homepage
    Now I have to come up with a new plan.
  • Trivial (Score:5, Funny)

    by DeeEff ( 2370332 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:04PM (#41561803)

    It becomes almost trivial to steal a spaceship once you're President of the Galaxy.

    These are the types of two faced men we should watch out for.

  • So, after a helpful LAPD officer suggested it would be impossible for a supervillain to make off with OV-105, Torchinsky went ahead and made a plan to do just that. All he needs is a submarine, a score of Sikorsky CH-53E heavy-lift helicopters, a salvaged and disguised Buran spaceplane, and the assistance of Switzerland.

    Bet'cha the crew from Leverage [tntdrama.com] could do it. They probably wouldn't even need the Swiss, although they might borrow a minister or two for misdirection

    They did 'steal' the Spruce Goose, after all... :o)

  • PR genius (Score:4, Funny)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:12PM (#41561861)
    This is obviously viral marketing for Ocean's Fourteen.
    • This is obviously viral marketing for Ocean's Fourteen.

      Exactly what I was thinking. Sounds like an Ocean's plot. If they simplify the plot a little, it could be a stunt for Fast and Furious 6 as well... Attach two Dodge Chargers to spaceship and drive through LA like mad.

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:16PM (#41561901)

    Next Season, on Breaking Bad

    Jessie: Oh come on, Mr. White! We have $480,000,000! Each! I'm out!

    Walt: Really Jessie? This is about money to you?

    Jessie: Wasn't that the whole point? To leave your family money, and then to make an empire because you're mad you made a bad decision with Gray Matter? Why do you need a space shuttle? Bitch?!

    Walt: Jessie, Hank is on to us. We need to get out of his jurisdiction. Out of everyone's jurisdiction! And that shuttle is our ride.

    • I have to say, you've got the conversation pretty close to dead on. /clapclapclap

    • by Anonymous Coward

      With the path of idiocy the series has walked in the past, I fully expect this to happen. ^^

    • Screw that old RV, and cooking in roach-infested houses.Imagine the crystals they can grow in microgravity!

      Just hope Jesse's funyun crumbs don't screw up the environmental control system...

  • too late (Score:5, Funny)

    by badford ( 874035 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:17PM (#41561907)

    What makes you think that is the real shuttle?...mwuhuhahahaha [evil laughter trails off]

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:18PM (#41561921) Homepage
    now the space shuttle. when will the evil stop?
    • I suspect the space shuttle was the original extraction method for the maple syrup, hence the need to steal it.

      Of course, since the maple syrup was recovered, there's not much point in stealing the shuttle, unless the maple syrup was just a distraction for the theft of somethign even more valuable!

    • How many barrels of maple syrup could you hide in a space shuttle?

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      Never. Presumably eventually they'll start stealing major landmarks, then they'll graduate from that and start stealing entire planets. Then at some point they'll invent a time machine and start stealing bits of the past, too. Better catch her quick!

    • The terrorists have definately won

    • It all started when the Underpants Gnomes escaped from their Rocky Mountains hideaway. To save the world, we must all learn their song, and sing it at midnight CET on 17 November simultaneously across four timezones. Don't forget, EVERYBODY must sing it, or it won't work!
  • Horrible plan. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drkim ( 1559875 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:22PM (#41561945)

    Horrible plan.

    First, if you already have a Buran, what would you need the shuttle for?

    You're going to put a giant, top-opening cargo hold in a submarine?

    And then you're going to bring it to flight-readiness? Couldn't you just buy the Buran and bring that to flight-readiness?

    • "And by the way, it's not about making [a space shuttle], it's about taking [a space shuttle]. Destroying the status quo because the status is not quo. The world is a mess and I just... need to rule it." ~ Dr. Horrible
    • You're going to put a giant, top-opening cargo hold in a submarine?

      I'm a former submariner, and trying to maneuver something underwater like that giant cargo hold gives me the squirming heebie-jeebies. Depth control would be somewhat... interesting. (To put it mildly.)

    • It's a horrible plan because it's far too complicated (I know he's trying to be funny, but it should at least be realistic). As soon as I read the headline my first thought was to hijack the 747 with the shuttle onboard. Once you have hostages it shouldn't be too hard to fill up and fly to the sympathetic anti-american country of your choice. Surely 100 fully armed guerillas to storm the airport would be a lot easier to assemble than dozens of heavy lift helicopters and customised submarines?
      • by drkim ( 1559875 )

        ...my first thought was to hijack the 747 with the shuttle onboard.

        That's a much better plan. Hijack it early in the flight. Put up a Lear with avionics spoofing gear to fly along the filed flight path. Turn off avionics on the 747 and fly it up to some remote area of Canada and land it. Lock the crew in a basement with the fembots.

        Continue the Lear spoofing the 747 over the Nevada desert somewhere. Once the shuttle is safe in Canada, flip off the Lear spoofing gear, land it and bury it somewhere.

  • >> "While Bond supervillans tend to have these sorts of facilities and liquidity, they don't really exist..."

    Well that exactly what Blofeld wants you to think.

  • by Fuzzums ( 250400 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:28PM (#41562005) Homepage

    Especially the part where the Swiss submarine is docking in those Swiss harbours is interesting.

    But while you did this, I used all that confusion to replace the Mona Lisa with a fake one :)

  • To paraphrase the piano enthusiasts, it's not a shuttle but rather a shuttle-shaped piece of furniture.
  • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @03:30PM (#41562017) Journal
    Moonraker [youtube.com]
  • International Committee of the Red Cross was created in Geneva, Switzerland, http://www.icrc.org/ [icrc.org] by Henry Dunant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Dunant [wikipedia.org] and other nice people.

    Geneva Conventions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions [wikipedia.org] were accepted, well, in Geneva.

    It is sort of a good serious place.
  • You have not been in Moscow for a while. Here it is: http://www.moninoaviation.com/g6a.html [moninoaviation.com]
  • I'll just make a few calls...
  • I know he [hallert.net] wants a NASA space shuttle. ;)

  • How do you fence it?

    This is even more pointless than stealing "The Scream". At least you could just walk out with a painting so hot it sets your house on fire. With this spaceplane heist you're putting an awful lot of time and money in to acquire something with zero return.

    • With this spaceplane heist you're putting an awful lot of time and money in to acquire something with zero return.

      I don't think this guy is thinking that far ahead. His first mistake was writing up his entire plan and blogging about it...

  • Kirk - "Scotty, do you have the coordinates?"

    Scotty - "Aye Captain!"

    Kirk - "Good. Transport them directly into the shuttle bay. Start with the Enterprise."

    Spock - "Quite logical Captain!"

    Scotty - "Does this make us supervillians Captain?"

    Kirk - "We are just protecting them, Until NASA realizes they still need them"

    *boop* *beep* *whirrrrrlllll*

  • How can I see this replacing "how would you move Mt Fuji" as a future interview question?

    /Proposed answer was horrible by the way.

  • Moonraker [imdb.com]
    • No, no, no. You can't just post an IMDB link to a cheesy spy move most of the young-uhns here have never heard of. You need to provide them with a teaser of sorts. Allow me to demonstrate ...

      The cited FA is far too complex, and is doomed to fail. If the wind is blowing the wrong way on the morning of the heist, all is lost. Rather, I would suggest that said supervillian employ a former astronaut (turned henchman) to sneak aboard the Shuttle while it is parked along Sepulveda Boulevard. The ATH could
  • He should call Franz Harary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Harary/ [wikipedia.org]
  • The LAPD was right, it's impossible (in practical, not necessarily absolute, terms).

  • ...but Roger Moore would have to play Bond...

  • Perhaps the security is adequate if that is the best plan.

    Security is not about making absolutely sure, it's about:

    1. Lowering likelyhood: Making it reasonably hard to break, so that the bad guys will go somehere else.
    2. Spend wisely: Not spending more to defend that the likelyhood of loss times (value lost + value bad guys gain) (in general terms)


    a. Round up the likelyhood, the bad guys are better than you at getting ideas.
    b. Destroy sensitive and remove generally valuable parts to reduce the bad guys

  • . . . for when he finds himself up shit's creek!
  • It would be cheaper to buy it from the US as salvage. Have you seen that crappy old rustbucket lately? Sure they put a new coat of paint on it, but I wouldn't risk my life flying in that thing. Might make a cool ground-based home though.
  • Now we know what Canada's maple syrup reserve was stolen [slashdot.org] for!
  • So.. nick a buran spaceplane. Wonderful though the shuttle was, given the technology at the time, a shuttle/spaceplane was the logical design for any spacefaring nation. I'd have loved to see Buran make more than test flights. Even then it had advantages over the shuttle as it could make automatic landings, something which wasn't added to the shuttle for decades. Buran was sadly brought to its knees due to Russian political in-fighting; crippled due to the economy dropping into the toilet and finally ki
  • A few problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday October 05, 2012 @06:57PM (#41564185)

    When the chaos is at its climax, a fleet of 10 Sikorsky CH-53E heavy lift helicopters wearing NASA Emergency Rescue livery will show up, and heroically inform everyone that they're here to take the Shuttle to a more secure location, away from the fire, and all that, back at LAX.

    I don't think it would be possible for 10 choppers to coordinate to lift a load like that, the diameter of the rotors on the chopper is 80 feet, and the wingspan of the shuttle is 80 feet, so they would be pulling at an angle, which even if they could maintain the proper separation, would reduce their payload capacity. Worse, if one chopper loses or reduces power, the downward force would pull all of the choppers closer together, likely causing their rotors to collide. This coordination would be much harder to maintain when they fly into the smokescreen. To do this in real life, they'd need some kind of special bracket to allow the choppers to have enough horizontal separation to lift vertically.

    Meanwhile, the real Endeavour is being flown a few miles West, out to the Pacific. While in flight, a crack team of Swiss military aerialists will wrap the Shuttle in camouflaged and water-tight plastic wrap, like they use for boats and other heavy equipment when shipping.

    It seems highly unlikely that they'd be able to get a watertight seal around all of the tow ropes while airborne.... though they are a *crack* team, so maybe.

    Once wrapped, the tethers holding the Shuttle will be released, sending the plastic-coated orbiter plunging into the icy Pacific.

    This part is even harder - the picture in the article shows the shuttle sinking under the water to the special submarine, except that the shuttle wouldn't sink, it would float.

    The shuttle cargo bay alone is 18m x 4.5m x 2m (estimated), or 162 m^3, which would displace 162,000 kg or water, or around 178 US tons. Add in the rest of the volume of the shuttle, and it's probably closer to 250 tons of displacement. The sub would have to come snatch it from the surface. I assume that something like an 16,000 ton Ohio Class sub would be able to submerge even with a 200 ton buoyant chamber on it, but I don't know for sure - I don't know how close to neutrally buoyant a sub is.

    And of course, if the shuttle was submerged, it's unlikely that it could handle much pressure - it's designed to be under positive pressure in space, every 30 feet under water is one atmosphere of negative pressure, which the shuttle was never designed for.

    And then finally there's the problem of what to do with it once they get it, the article suggests:

    A country with a motive, like maybe a strange fixation on neutrality to the degree they've made their country a fortress and they may be interested in getting a spaceship for an off-world colony, fast.

    If they are building a space colony, they'd probably want to get higher than the 400 mile max orbit of the shuttle. And if they just want a launch vehicle, for the $600M they are spending on the 20 CH-53E's, they may as well pay the Russians to take them to space, since they Russians can launch them cheaper than the $450M/flight it costs for the shuttle. And, of course, the shuttles are no longer spaceworthy, and it's likely that no one (not even NASA) has the ability to take a mothballed shuttle that's been on an underwater journey and make it spaceworthy again.

    If I were a Mythbuster, I'd declare this myth "Busted", as I don't see any way it could work in real life.

  • Make jokes about stealing a space shuttle, something capable of dropping orbital nukes, and everyone thinks it's the funniest thing. But make one remark at the airport about how you thought that great new movie was 'the bomb' and they hall you away...

  • Swissair was liquidated in March 2002. Its successor, Swiss International Air Line, was taken over by the German airline Lufthansa in 2005.

    Also the choice of Switzerland government as main actor seems extremely bizarre to whoever knows a bit how Switzerland works. The private Swiss banks do cultivate secrecy, not the government (the Swiss secret services are rather amateurish). A highly decentralized and democratic state like Switzerland makes any coordinated, well prepared and secret operation of this

  • ... is actually not run by the state and is not called Swissair. The company he's looking for is "Swiss International Air Lines" (since 2002) and is a subsidiary of the German airline Lufthansa (since 2005).

    Otherwise, the plan seems legit.

  • Sure, but where would you park it?

  • You'll need a steamroller as well.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter