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    Space Shuttle (NASA)
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    Space Shuttle (NASA) Background


    The Space Shuttle is a spacecraft used by the United States' NASA organization. Space Shuttles carry astronauts into space. It is unique among spacecraft because it can be used again.


    The shuttle is shaped like a large airplane. This is another unique thing about it. Having wings and a tail allows the Space Shuttle to glide and land on a runway. Most spacecraft use parachutes when landing. This allows the reusable part of the Shuttle to be very large. People have said that the Shuttle is very much like a pickup truck because of its usefulness.

    Two disposable Solid Fuel Rocket Boosters (also called SRBs) and a large external fuel tank are used to lift the space shuttle out of Earth's gravity and into space. After the shuttle is in orbit the boosters and tanks are dropped and fall back to earth. The tank is never used again. The boosters are found in the ocean. NASA pulls the SRBs out and uses them again.

    The shuttle was invented 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 June 12, 1981. It was done by the Space Shuttle Columbia.

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

    In the 1990s the Shuttle began working on the International Space Station (ISS). This is now the main job of the shuttle.

    Also in the 1990s, the Space Shuttle put the Hubble Telescope into space.

    On January 16, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up during the re-entry phase of STS-107. It broke apart over Texas. It again caused a long delay in shuttle flight. This happened because some of the heat shield broke off the shuttle during lift-off, after being hit by a piece of the external tank.

    Space Shuttle Challenger was a spaceship used by NASA to fly into outer space. The shuttle broke up 73 seconds after take-off on 28 January 1986. All seven people who were on it at the time were killed. The crash happened because a rubber tube called an o-ring did not expand to fill a gap in one of the booster rockets, due to cold weather.

    The Space Shuttle Columbia was a spacecraft used by NASA to fly into outer space. It was the first Space Shuttle to fly into space, on 12 April 1981. It crashed just before landing on 1 February 2003, killing all seven people who were on it at the time. The shuttle flew a total of 28 missions.

    Topics of Interest

    The Space Shuttle, part of the Space Transportation System (STS), is a spacecraft operated by NASA for orbital human spaceflight missions. Operational flights began in 1982 following four test flights. The system is scheduled to be retired from service in 2010 after 134 launches. Major missions have included launching numerous satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science experiments, and servicing and construction of space stations. The Shuttle has been used for orbital space missions by NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the European Space Agency, and Germany. The United States funded STS development and shuttle operations.

    The Space Shuttle orbiters are the orbital spacecraft of the Space Shuttle program operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Each orbiter is a reusable winged "spaceplane", a mixture of rocket, spacecraft, and aircraft. The spaceplane can carry crews and payloads into Earth orbit, perform on-orbit operations, then re-enter the atmosphere and land as a glider, returning its crew and any on-board payload to Earth.

    The Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) are the pair of large solid rockets used by the space shuttle during the first two minutes of powered flight. Together they provide about 83% of liftoff thrust for the Space Shuttle. They are located on either side of the orange external propellant tank. Each SRB produces 80% more liftoff thrust than one F-1 engine, the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fueled rocket engine ever flown 5 of which powered the Saturn V "moon rocket's" first stage. The SRBs are the largest solid-fuel rocket motors ever flown, and the first to be used for primary propulsion on human spaceflight missions. The spent SRBs are recovered from the ocean, refurbished, reloaded with propellant, and reused for several missions. The prime contractor for the SRBs and the manufacturer of the vital solid fuel rocket segments is the Thiokol Corporation of Brigham City, Utah.

    The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida, United States, at 11:39 a.m. EST (16:39 UTC).

    The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, with the loss of all seven crew members, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.

    Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-103) is one of the three currently operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, the space agency of the United States. (The other two are Atlantis and Endeavour.) When first flown in 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter, and is now the oldest orbiter in service. Discovery has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions.

    The Buran spacecraft, GRAU index 11F35 K1, was the only completed and operational space shuttle vehicle from the Soviet Buran program. Clearly influenced by the earlier American Space Shuttle design, the Buran completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 before the cancellation of the Soviet shuttle program in 1993. The Buran was subsequently destroyed by a hangar collapse in 2002.

    Criticism of the Space Shuttle program stems from claims that the Shuttle program has failed to achieve its promised cost and utility goals, as well as design, cost, management, and safety issues. More specifically, it has failed in the goal of reducing the cost of space access. Space shuttle incremental per-pound launch costs are not appreciably cheaper than that of expendable launchers. It failed in the goal of achieving reliable access to space, partly due to multi-year interruptions in launches following Shuttle failures. NASA budget pressures caused by the chronically high NASA Space Shuttle program costs have eliminated NASA manned space flight beyond low earth orbit since Apollo, and severely curtailed more productive space science using unmanned probes. NASA's promotion of and reliance on the Shuttle slowed domestic commercial expendable launch vehicle (ELV) programs until after the 1986 Challenger disaster. The space program has failed to inspire, excite, or motivate the current American public as the previous Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects did for earlier generations.

    Space Shuttle main engines (SSMEs) are reusable liquid-fuel rocket engines built by Rocketdyne. Each Space Shuttle ascent to orbit is propelled by three of the fourteen SSME engines currently used by the NASA Space Shuttle program. After each flight, the three SSMEs are removed from the Space Shuttle orbiter, inspected and refurbished in preparation for reuse on a subsequent flight. The SSME is also designated as the RS-24 for engineering purposes.

    A Space Shuttle External Tank (ET) is the component of the Space Shuttle launch vehicle that contains the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer. During lift-off and ascent it supplies the fuel and oxidizer under pressure to the three space shuttle main engines (SSME) in the orbiter. The ET is jettisoned just over 10 seconds after MECO (Main Engine Cut Off), where the SSMEs are shut down, and re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. Unlike the Solid Rocket Boosters, external tanks have not been re-used. They break up before impact in the Indian Ocean (or Pacific Ocean in the case of direct-insertion launch trajectories, which are currently utilized) away from known shipping lanes.

    The Space Shuttle Explorer is a full-scale replica of a Space Shuttle. The Explorer includes replicas of the interior spaces. It is located at Kennedy Space Center and is accessible by tourists.

    The Space Shuttle Orbiter Pathfinder (honorary Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-098) is a Space Shuttle simulator made of steel and wood.

    A Space Shuttle abort is an emergency procedure due to equipment failure on NASA's Space Shuttle, most commonly during ascent. A main engine failure is a typical abort scenario. There are fewer abort options during reentry and descent. For example, the Columbia disaster happened during reentry, and there were no alternatives in that portion of flight.

    The Space Shuttle thermal protection system (TPS) is the barrier that protects the Space Shuttle Orbiter during the searing 1650 C (3000 F) heat of atmospheric reentry. A secondary goal is to protect from the heat and cold of space while on orbit. The TPS covers essentially the entire orbiter surface, and consists of seven different materials in varying locations based on amount of required heat protection.

    A military space shuttle would have been the military equivalent of NASA's space shuttle. Many experts believe that it is extremely unlikely that NASA, the United States Department of Defense or any other Federal agency could keep the existence of such a spacecraft secret, given the official knowledge that stated extensive technical support and launching establishment would be necessary to fly it.

    The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) are two extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners that NASA uses to transport Space Shuttle orbiters. One is a 747-100 model, while the other is a short range 747-100SR.

    The International Space Station (ISS) is an internationally developed research facility currently being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998 and is scheduled to be completed by 2011, with operations continuing until at least 2015.[7] The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye, and, as of 2009, is the largest artificial satellite in Earth orbit, with a mass larger than that of any previous space station. The ISS serves as a long-term research laboratory in space, with experiments in fields including biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology being carried out daily in the station's microgravity environment. The station also provides a safe testing location for efficient, reliable spacecraft systems that will be required for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars. The ISS and its experiments are operated by long-duration Expedition crews, with the station being continuously staffed since the first resident crew, Expedition 1, arrived on 2 November 2000.. This has provided an uninterrupted human presence in space for the last 9 years and 49 days. As of 1 December 2009, the crew of Expedition 22 is aboard.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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    Last updated: June 2013
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