The Final Frontier

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The final frontier
   Since 1981, NASA space shuttles have been rocketing from the Florida coast into Earth orbit,
   carrying over 350 people into space and travelling more than half a billion miles, more than
                                                                                                                                                           Space shuttle:        56.1 m
                                                                                                                                                                        Orbiter: 37.2 m
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Length




   enough to reach Jupiter. And now, as the shuttle program comes to an end,
   we look back at the machine that has made it all possible.                                                                                                    Height — Orbiter on runway

  The space shuttle system
  The space shuttle consists of three major components: the
                                                                           3, 2, 1... Blasto !
                                                                           • When the shuttle is ready to launch the                                                                     17.4 m
                                                                           main engines light up and the solid rocket
  Ortibter which house the crew; a large External Tank that holds          boosters fire
  fuel for the main engines; and two Solid Rocket Booster which            • The SRB’s push gases down at high                                                                            Lifto weight
  provide most of the Shuttle’s lift during the first two minutes of        speeds and the shuttle reacts by lifting o .
  flight. All of the components are used exccept for the external
  fuel tank, which burns up in the atmosphere after each launch.
                                                                           It takes only seconds to clear the launch
                                                                           pad.                                                                                               2 million
                                                                                                                                                                                   kgs
                                                                           • Two minutes later the shuttle drops the
                                                                           boosters. They fall into the ocean and
             Nose cap                                                      special boats retrieve them to be used
                                                  External Tank            again
                                                                           • The orbiter and external tank continue
                Four booster                                               to fly. When the external tank is empty, the                                                                          Wingspan
                separation motors                      Liquid oxygen
                                                                           orbiter drops it. It breaks apart into pieces
                                                       (LOX) tank
                Frustum
                Includes 3 main parachutes
                                                         Intertank
                                                                           and falls into the ocean.
                                                                           • The engine cuts off as the crew arrives in
                                                                           orbit. It only take 8.5 minutes for the
                                                                                                                                                                                             24 m
                 Forward skirt                                             shuttle to arrive in space.
                 Includes guidance gyros                 Lox feedline
                                                         bellows                                                                                                                                         Orbit
                 Solid rocket motor
                 Forward segment                         Bipod assembly
                                                                                                                                                                                185-643
                 Solid rocket motor
                 Forward center segment
                                                          Liquid
                                                          hydrogen
                                                                                                                                                                                    kms
                                                          tank
       Solid Rocket
       Booster                                                                                                                                                                                      Velocity
                 Solid rocket motor
                 Aft center segment                     Weight of Orbiter
                                                        The heaviest Orbiter, Columbia, weighed in at 80,730
                                                                                                                                                                       27,875 kph
                                                        kgs. The heaviest Aftican Elephantt weights 5,987
                 External tank                          kgs. It would take approximately 13.4 African                                                                                    Total distance
                 attach ring                            Elephants to equal the weight of Space Shuttle
                                                        Columbia.
                                                                                                                                                                                               travelled
                 Solid rocket motor
                 Aft segment
                                                                  Maneuvering        Main                                                                                              870
                                                                                                                                                                                    million
                                                                  System pod         engines
                    Aft skirt
                    Includes steering system
                     Nozzle extension
                     Cut o before ocean impact                                                                                                                                         kms
                                      Payload doors
                  Orbiter                                                                                                                                                         Total time in flight

                                                                                                                                                                       1,310 days
                  Atlantis

       Crew cabin                                                                                                 The Atlantis
                                                                                                               will be the 135TH
                                                                                                                   and FINAL
                                                                                                               FLIGHT of NASA’s                                               Total program costs
                                                                                                                30-year shuttle
                                                                                                                    program                                       $196 billion
Sources: nasa.gov, Graphic News                                                                                             SUSAN BATSFORD, GRAPHICS EDITOR, TWITTER @SBATS1; INFOGRAPHIC BY TARA MARTIN/QMI AGENCY

				
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posted:6/3/2012
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