Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
NASA Facts a Walk Around the Space Shuttle

NASA Facts a Walk Around the Space Shuttle

Ratings: (0)|Views: 57 |Likes:
Published by Bob Andrepont
NASA Facts booklet on the Space Shuttle.
NASA Facts booklet on the Space Shuttle.

More info:

Published by: Bob Andrepont on Jan 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Alabama 35812
    N    A    S    A     F   a   c   t   s
A Walk Around the Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle’s superlative design providescapabilities and flexibilities unmatched by any otherlaunch system. NASA fuels discoveries that makethe world smarter, healthier, and safer.The Shuttle’s major components are: the Orbiterspacecraft; the three Main Engines, with a com-bined thrust of more than 1.2 million pounds; theExternal Tank (ET) that feeds the liquid hydrogenfuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer to the three MainEngines; and the two Solid Rocket Boosters(SRBs), with their combined thrust of some 5.3million pounds, which provide most of the powerfor the first two minutes of flight. The SRBs take theSpace Shuttle to an altitude of 28 miles and a speedof 3,094 miles per hour before they separate andfall back into the ocean to be retrieved, refurbished,and prepared for another flight. After the SolidRocket Boosters are jettisoned, the Orbiter’s threeMain Engines, fed by the External Tank, continue toprovide thrust for another six minutes before theyare shut down, at which time the giant tank is jet-tisoned and falls back to Earth, disintegrating in theatmosphere.
The Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Orbiter, both the brains andheart of the Space TransportationSystem, is about the same sizeand weight as a DC-9 aircraft. Itcontains the pressurized crewcompartment, which can hold upto seven crew members; the hugecargo bay; and the three MainEngines, mounted at its aft end.The thermal tile system which pro-tects the orbiter during its searingreentry through the atmospherewas a breakthrough technologythat proved much more challeng-ing than expected. There are twolevels to the crew cabin. Upper-most is the flight deck where thecommander and the pilot controlthe mission, surrounded by an array of switches and controls.During the launch of a seven-member crew, two other astronautsare positioned on the flight deck behind the commander andpilot. The three other crew members are in launch positions inthe mid-deck, which is below the flight deck. The mid-deck iswhere the galley, toilet, sleep stations, and storage and experi-ment lockers are found for the basic needs of weightless, dailyliving. Also located in the mid-deck are the side hatch for pas-sage to and from the vehicle before and after landing, and theairlock hatch into the cargo bay and space beyond. It is throughthis hatch and airlock that astronauts go to don their spacesuitsand manned maneuvering units and prepare for extravehicularactivities, more popularly known as “spacewalks.” These excur-sions have produced some of the most important space firstsin the Shuttle program as well as the most spectacular photo-graphic vistas of the space age. Below the mid-deck’s floor is autility area for the air and water tanks and their ducts.The Space Shuttle’s cargo bay is adaptable to hundreds of tasks.Large enough to accommodate a 60-foot-long tour bus, thecargo bay instead carries satellites, spacecraft, and scientificlaboratories to and from Earth orbit. It is also a work station forastronauts to repair satellites, a foundation from which to erectspace structures, and a hold for retrieved satellites to be returnedto Earth. Mounted on the port side of the cargo bay behind thecrew quarters is the remote manipulator system (RMS). TheRMS is a robot arm and hand with three joints analogous tothose of the human shoulder, elbow and wrist. It is operatedfrom the aft station of the orbiter’s flight deck. The RMS, some50 feet long, can move anything from satellites to astronauts toand from the cargo bay or to different points in nearby space.Thermal tile insulation and blankets—also known as the thermalprotection system or TPS—cover the underbelly, bottom of thewings, and other heat-bearing surfaces of the orbiter and protectit during its fiery reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The Shut-tle’s 24,000 individual tiles are made primarily of pure-sand sili-cate fibers, mixed with a ceramic binder. Incredibly lightweightand about the same density as balsa wood, they dissipate theheat so quickly that a white-hot tile with a temperature of 2,300degrees Fahrenheit can be taken from an oven and held in barehands without injury.
The Main Engines andOrbital Propulsion Systems
The three Main Engines are clus-tered at the aft end of the Orbiterand have combined thrust of morethan 1.2 million pounds. They arehigh performance, liquid propel-lant rocket engines whose thrust can be varied over a range of65 to 109 percent of their rated power level. They are the world’s
first reusable rocket engines, designed to operate for 55 flights,and are 14 feet long and seven and one-half feet in diameter atthe nozzle exit. Two orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engines,mounted on either side of the upper aft fuselage, provide thrustfor major orbital changes. For more exacting motions in orbit,forty-four small rocket engines, clustered on the Shuttle’s noseand on either side of the tail, are used. Together they are knownas the reaction control system and are used to aid in retrieving,launching, and repairing satellites in orbit.
The External Tank
The giant tank—standing tallerthan a 15-story building with alength of 154 feet and as wideas a silo with a diameter of27.5 feet—is the largest singlepiece of the Space Shuttle. Dur-ing launch the External Tankalso acts as a backbone forthe Orbiter and Solid RocketBoosters to which it is attached.In separate pressurized tanksections inside, the ExternalTank holds the liquid hydro-gen fuel and liquid oxygenoxidizer for the Shuttle’s threeMain Engines. During launchthe External Tank feeds thefuel under pressure through17-inch-wide lines which thenbranch off into smaller linesthat feed directly into the MainEngines. Some 64,000 gallons of fuel are consumed by theMain Engines each minute. Machined from aluminum alloys,the Space Shuttle’s External Tank is the only part of the launchvehicle that is not reused. After its 526,000 gallons of propel-lants are consumed during the first eight and one-half minutes offlight, it is jettisoned from the Orbiter and breaks up in the upperatmosphere, its pieces falling into remote ocean waters.
The Solid Rocket Boosters
The Space Shuttle’s two SolidRocket Boosters, the firstdesigned for refurbishment andreuse, are also the largest solidrockets ever built and the firstto be flown on a manned space-craft. Together they provide themajority of the thrust for the firsttwo minutes of flight—some 5.3million pounds. The solid propel-lant mix is composed of 16 per-cent aluminum powder (fuel) andalmost 70 percent ammoniumperchlorate (oxidizer), with theremainder made up of a binder, acuring agent and a small amountof catalyst. A small rocket motorin each booster ignites the pro-pellant at launch. During flight,the booster nozzles swivel—upto six degrees—and are used tosteer the Space Shuttle by redirecting thrust.For more information, visit

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->