Seriously, look at this shit.
Doing a backflip at Mach 5 with the external tank still attached, NBD.
Rumor has it that the scenario was possible in the sim with an intact shuttle, but in just about any case where you're doing an RTLS the shuttle most likely isn't intact (if it was you could just a transatlantic abort or something). There's also rumors that STS-1 was planned to be a test of the RTLS scenario, before John Young helpfully pointed out that was a retarded idea.
This is a discussion thread for the greatest horror villain of our time, the Space Transportation System, more commonly known as the Space Shuttle.
First, I want to say something positive about the Space Shuttle, and that's that it, and its offspring SLS, has one of the most ingenious launch arrangements out there. Sure, solids may not be the absolute best thing ever for manned spaceflight, but the "two high t/w boosters, one central core with mega-awesome high ISP high thrust engines" arrangement is seriously a great idea. The fact that they pulled it off is even more awesome.