Image above: To celebrate
the 30th anniversary and retirement of the Space Shuttle Program, the
design of this patch aims to capture the visual essence and spirit of the
shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch on April 12,
1981 and continued to set high marks of achievement and endurance through
30 years of missions. Starting with Columbia and continuing with
Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the spacecraft has carried
people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites,
conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space,
the International Space Station.
space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when Atlantis rolled
to a stop at its home port, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the
bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies
but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants
and contractors throughout NASA's field centers and across the nation have
demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater
goal of space exploration.
56.14 meters (184.2 feet)
37.24 meters (122.17 feet)
Orbiter on runway:
17.27 meters (56.67 feet)
2,041,166 kilograms (4.5 million pounds)
End of mission:
104,326 kilograms (230,000 pounds)
Maximum cargo to orbit
Two minutes after
8.5 minutes after
kilometers (59 nautical miles)
185 to 643
(115 to 400 statute miles)
* weight will vary
depending on payloads and on board consumables.
Space Shuttle Cockpit
What Can the Space
The space shuttle normally takes as many as seven astronauts to and from
space. The space shuttle has done many kinds of jobs. It has launched
satellites from its cargo bay. It has been a science laboratory while
orbiting Earth. Its crews have fixed other spacecraft, such as the Hubble
Space Telescope. Today, the space shuttle is used mostly to work on the
International Space Station.
What Are the Parts of the Space Shuttle?
The space shuttle has three main parts. The first part is the orbiter. The
orbiter is the large, white space plane. It is the only part of the
shuttle that goes into orbit. The orbiter is where the crew members live
and work. It also has a payload bay for taking cargo into orbit. The
second part of the shuttle is the external tank. This large, orange fuel
tank connects to the bottom of the orbiter for launch. The third part is
really two pieces. Two white solid rocket boosters send out most of the
thrust for the first two minutes of a shuttle launch. The solid rocket
boosters are long and thin.
How Does the Space Shuttle Launch and Land?
The space shuttle takes off like a rocket. The solid rocket boosters and
the main engines on the orbiter provide the thrust for launch. The solid
rocket boosters burn for about two minutes. Then they are dropped from the
shuttle and fall into the ocean. Special boats bring them back so they can
be used again. The shuttle’s main engines fire for about another six
minutes. The external tank is dropped when all the fuel has been used.
Shortly after this happens the shuttle and crew are in orbit.
The orbiter lands like a glider. While in orbit it fires its engines to
slow down and stop orbiting. After it re-enters Earth's atmosphere, it
glides in for a landing on a runway.
How Many Orbiters Are There?
The last three orbiters were Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. Since the
shuttle began flying in 1981, two orbiters, Columbia and Challenger, have
been lost due to accidents. One other orbiter, Enterprise, never flew into
space. It was built to test how the orbiters would work. Now it's at a
Smithsonian Museum center near Washington, D.C.
Data compiled from The
British Antarctic Study, NASA, Environment Canada, UNEP, EPA and
other sources as stated and credited Researched by Charles
Welch-Updated daily This Website is a project of the The Ozooe Hole