The Space Shuttle is a spacecraft used by the United States' NASA organization. Space Shuttles are used to carry astronauts and cargo into space. Cargo such as satellites, parts of the International Space Station or scientific instruments may taken up into space by the space shuttle. It is a unique spacecraft because it can be used again.
Parts of the Space Shuttle[change | change source]
The Space Shuttle consists of 3 parts, the orbiter, external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters.
The orbiter is shaped like a large airplane with wings and a tail. This allows the Space Shuttle to glide and land on a runway. This allows the reusable part of the Shuttle to be very large. Many previous spacecraft like the Apollo used parachutes when landing, and landed on the ocean. People have said that the Shuttle is very much like a pickup truck because of its usefulness.
The shuttle is launched out of Earth's gravity and into space by 3 rocket engines on the rear of the orbiter along with help from 2 long white Solid Rocket Boosters (also called SRBs) Fuel for the shuttle is stored in the large orange External Fuel Tank (also called ET). Before the shuttle reaches orbit, the SRBs are released and fall to the Atlantic Ocean where they are towed back to shore for reuse. The ET is also released but breaks up and falls into the Indian Ocean and is not reused.
The space shuttles[change | change source]
The US space shuttles are:-
†:No longer in service(destroyed) x:No longer in service(retired).
History[change | change source]
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 was done by the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The first shuttle flight in space was on April 12, 1981. It was done by the Space Shuttle Columbia.
In the 1990s the Shuttle began working on the International Space Station (ISS). This has been the 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.