Gallery Article by Alvis 3.1


A large infusion of cash into the European Space Agency in the late 1970s led to several unusual designs.  Ariane designed the Spaceplane, Britain designed the HOTOL spaceplane, and Germany came up with: The ShuttleBug.  


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Utilising the natural lifting body shape of the classic original Beetle, hypersonic wings and tail were grafted on, an orbital guidance and steering system installed, and a pressure cabin fabricated. The miniscule cargo bay could hold a Blaupunkt BP-22GMKFG orbital pre-amp unit, or several cases of Lowenbrau. The two "Bug-o-nauts" were to steer the vehicle to a projected rendezvous with an  European Space Platform (ESP), but it never got built.

Several launches of the ShuttleBug were achieved using the Ariane 4 booster system, and while the vehicle performed flawlessly, it eventually was relegated to delivering pizzas to the Canadian Space Agency's Orbital Hydroponic Growth Research Facility.

Alvis 3.1


Photos and text by Alvis 3.1