Space Shuttle

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Space Shuttle
Space Transportation System
Shuttle Patch.svg
FunctionCrewed orbital launch and reentry
ManufacturerBoeing (Orbiter)
Lockheed Martin (ET)
Northrup Grumman (SRBs)
Country of originUnited States
Project costUS$210,000,000,000 (2010)[1][2][3]
Cost per launchUS$ 450 million (2011)[4] to 1.5 billion (2011)[2][3][5][6]
Height56.1 metres (184 feet)
Diameter8.7 metres (29 feet)
Mass2,030,000 kilograms (4,480,000 pounds)
Payload to LEO27,500 kilograms (60,600 pounds)
Payload to ISS16,050 kilograms (35,380 pounds)
Payload to GTO3,810 kilograms (8,400 pounds)
Payload to Polar orbit12,700 kilograms (28,000 pounds)
Payload to Earth return14,400 kilograms (31,700 pounds)
Associated rockets
DerivativesSpace Launch System
ComparableSaturn V
Launch history
Launch sitesKennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39
Total launches135
Partial failures9
First flight(1981-04-12)12 April 1981
Last flight(2011-07-21)21 July 2011
Boosters – Solid Rocket Boosters
No. boosters2
Length45.46 metres (149.1 feet)
Diameter3.71 metres (12.2 feet)
Gross mass590,000 kilograms (1,300,000 pounds)
Thrust12,000,000 newtons (2,700,000 pounds-force)
Total thrust24,000,000 newtons (5,400,000 pounds-force)
Burn time127 seconds (2.12 minutes)
First stage – Orbiter with External Fuel Tank
Length46.9 metres (154 feet)
Diameter23.79 metres (78.1 feet)
Gross mass760,000 kilograms (1,680,000 pounds)
Engines3 RS-25
Thrust5,250,000 newtons (1,180,000 pounds-force)
Specific impulse455 seconds (4.46 km/s)
Burn time480 seconds (8.0 minutes)
FuelLiquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen

The Space Shuttle was a spacecraft which was used by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. Space Shuttles were used to carry astronauts and cargo into space. Cargo such as satellites, parts of a space station or scientific instruments were taken up into space by the space shuttle. It was a new kind of spacecraft because it could be used again and again.

Parts of the Space Shuttle[change | change source]

The Space Shuttle was made up of 3 parts. These were the orbiter, the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters.

The orbiter was shaped like a large airplane with wings and a tail. This allowed the Space Shuttle to glide and land on a runway. This allowed the reusable part of the Shuttle to be very large. Many spacecraft which came before the Space Shuttle, like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo used parachutes when landing, and landed on the ocean. People have said that the Shuttle was very much like a pickup truck because of its usefulness.

The shuttle was launched out of Earth's gravity and into space by 3 rocket engines on the back of the orbiter along with help from 2 long white Solid Rocket Boosters (also called SRBs)[7] Fuel for the shuttle was stored in the large, usually orange, External Fuel Tank (also called ET). Before the shuttle reached orbit, the SRBs were released and fell into the Atlantic Ocean where they were towed back to shore for reuse. The ET was also released but broke up and fell into the Indian Ocean and was not reused.[8]

Cargo Bay add-ons[change | change source]

Orbiter had a payload bay for various missions rather than deploying satellites. They were the following:

  • Spacelab: A laboratory used for experiments in space.
  • Spacehab: Similar to Spacelab, but it has multiple kinds.
  • Inertial Upper Stage: Upper stage used for sending payloads into higher orbits.
  • Payload Assist Module: Similar to IUS, but used solid propellants.
  • Extended Duration Orbiter: Cryogenic kit used for extending the duration of the missions.
  • Multi-Purpose Logistics Module: Cargo container used for supplying the cargos to International Space Station.
  • Canadarm: Robotic arm used for any missions.

The space shuttles[change | change source]

The US space shuttles were:

  1. Columbia
  2. Challenger
  3. Discovery
  4. Atlantis
  5. Endeavour
  6. Enterprise

A '†' next to a name means that the Shuttle was destroyed.

There was a Russian Shuttle called Buran. It flew one unmanned flight before being retired. The Buran was destroyed in a hangar collapse in 2002.

The space shuttles

History[change | change source]

First launch of the Space Shuttle.
Last landing of the Space Shuttle.

The shuttle was created in 1973. It replaced the Apollo capsules. The first flight was a test of the landing and maneuvering abilities of the shuttle. This flight used Space Shuttle Enterprise. The first shuttle flight in space was on April 12, 1981. It used Space Shuttle Columbia.[9]

On January 28, 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger destroyed 73 seconds into the flight of STS-51-L. It caused a year long stall in space flight.[10]

In the 1990s the Shuttle began working on the International Space Station (ISS). This was its main job of the shuttle since then.

Also in the 1990s, the Space Shuttle launched the Hubble telescope into space. Shuttle missions returned 5 times to repair and improve cameras and scientific instruments on the telescope.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up while returning STS-107 to Earth over Texas. The accident was caused by damage to the heat-shield which protects it from the heat of reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. It again caused a long delay until the next shuttle flight.

In 2010, NASA shut down the Space Shuttle program. They were more expensive to use than other launch vehicles. Currently, the United States has no manned spacecraft capabilities. Both SpaceX with the Crew Dragon and Boeing with their Starliner capsule, are planning to provide crewed missions to the ISS. NASA is developing the Orion capsule for beyond Earth orbit missions.

The remaining shuttles are now on display at the following museums:

Photos[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Logsdon, John (July 6, 2011). "Was the Space Shuttle a Mistake?". MIT Technology Review. p. 2. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Rise and Fall of the Space Shuttle, Book Review: Final Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle Program by Pat Duggins, American Scientist, 2008, Vol. 96, No. 5, p. 32.
  3. 3.0 3.1 CARL BIALIK (July 9, 2011). "As Shuttle Sails Through Space, Costs Are Tough to Pin Down". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  4. NASA (2011). "How much does it cost to launch a Space Shuttle?". NASA. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  5. Mike Wall (5 July 2011). "NASA's Shuttle Program Cost $209 Billion – Was it Worth It?". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  6. Pielke Jr., Roger; Radford Byerly (7 April 2011). "Shuttle programme lifetime cost". Nature 472 (7341): 38. doi:10.1038/472038d. PMID 21475182. 
  9. "NASA - 1981-1986 Space Shuttle Launches".
  10. KSC, Lynda Warnock: (19 January 2016). "STS-51L". NASA.

Other websites[change | change source]