Space shuttle

By delaney murray

space shuttle intro

Since 1981, NASA space shuttles have been rocketing from the Florida coast into Earth orbit. The five orbiters — Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor — have flown more than 130 times, carrying over 350 people into space and travelling more than half a billion miles, more than enough to reach Jupiter. Designed to return to Earth and land like a giant glider, the shuttle was the world's first reusable space vehicle. More than all of that, though, the shuttle program expanded the limits of human achievement and broadened our understanding of our world.

Space shuttle parts

The Space Shuttle is the world's first reusable spacecraft, and the first spacecraft in history that can carry large satellites both to and from orbit. The Shuttle launches like a rocket, maneuvers in Earth orbit like a spacecraft and lands like an airplane. Each of the three Space Shuttle orbiters now in operation -- Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor -- is designed to fly at least 100 missions. So far, altogether they have flown a combined total of less than one-fourth of that.

The Space Shuttle consists of three major components: the Orbiter which houses the crew; a large External Tank that holds fuel for the main engines; and two Solid Rocket Boosters which provide most of the Shuttle's lift during the first two minutes of flight. All of the components are reused except for the external fuel tank, which burns up in the atmosphere after each launch.

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Some instructions to take off