The Space Shuttle

The first flight of the reusable U.S. Space Shuttle was on April 12, 1981 after about ten years of development and testing. It is powered in launch by three main engines on the shuttle and two external solid booster rockets. It returns from orbit by gliding down to a runway. The main external structure for the booster is a huge fuel tank which holds liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the main engines, about 710,000 kg of fuel. The solid fuel booster rockets produce about 2.65 million pounds of trust each, and the three main engines about 470,000 pounds of thrust each. After liftoff, the solid fuel rockets burn out in about 2 min 12 sec and are jettisoned. The main engines are shut down 8 min 32 sec after liftoff and the main tank is released. The orbiter's own orbit-adjust engines complete the insertion into orbit.

In December 1993 the shuttle was put to dramatic use in the repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope.


Solar System Concepts

Solar System Exploration

Earth Satellites
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