21 Facts About Space Shuttle


Space Shuttle is a retired, partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U S National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the Space Shuttle program.

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Space Shuttle components include the Orbiter Vehicle with three clustered Rocketdyne RS-25 main engines, a pair of recoverable solid rocket boosters (SRBs), and the expendable external tank (ET) containing liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

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The Space Shuttle was launched vertically, like a conventional rocket, with the two SRBs operating in parallel with the orbiter's three main engines, which were fueled from the ET.

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The program tested aerodynamic characteristics that would later be incorporated in design of the Space Shuttle, including unpowered landing from a high altitude and speed.

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Rather than award a contract based upon initial proposals, NASA announced a phased approach for the Space Shuttle contracting and development; Phase A was a request for studies completed by competing aerospace companies, Phase B was a competition between two contractors for a specific contract, Phase C involved designing the details of the spacecraft components, and Phase D was the production of the spacecraft.

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NASA reviewed 29 potential designs for the Space Shuttle and determined that a design with two side boosters should be used, and the boosters should be reusable to reduce costs.

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Once installed at the launch pad, the Space Shuttle was used to verify the proper positioning of launch complex hardware.

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Space Shuttle was the first operational orbital spacecraft designed for reuse.

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Each Space Shuttle orbiter was designed for a projected lifespan of 100 launches or ten years of operational life, although this was later extended.

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Responsibility for the Space Shuttle components was spread among multiple NASA field centers.

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The Johnson Space Center served as the central point for all Shuttle operations and the MSFC was responsible for the main engines, external tank, and solid rocket boosters.

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The John C Stennis Space Center handled main engine testing, and the Goddard Space Flight Center managed the global tracking network.

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Space Shuttle's operations were supported by vehicles and infrastructure that facilitated its transportation, construction, and crew access.

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Space Shuttle was prepared for launch primarily in the VAB at the KSC.

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Type of mission the Space Shuttle was assigned to dictated the type of orbit that it entered.

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The initial design of the reusable Space Shuttle envisioned an increasingly cheap launch platform to deploy commercial and government satellites.

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The developers of the Space Shuttle advocated for reusability as a cost-saving measure, which resulted in higher development costs for presumed lower costs-per-launch.

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Partial reusability of the Space Shuttle was one of the primary design requirements during its initial development.

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However, the actual costs of a Space Shuttle launch were higher than initially predicted, and the Space Shuttle did not fly the intended 24 missions per year as initially predicted by NASA.

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Space Shuttle was originally intended as a launch vehicle to deploy satellites, which it was primarily used for on the missions prior to the Challenger disaster.

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The improvement of expendable launch vehicles and the transition away from commercial payloads on the Space Shuttle resulted in expendable launch vehicles becoming the primary deployment option for satellites.

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