2.5 million parts make the STS the most complicated machine ever built, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures inside and out.
At -423 degrees Farenheit, the shuttle's liquid hydrogen fuel is the second coldest liquid on Earth (only liquid helium is colder, at -450 degrees Farenheit). When it is combined with liquid oxygen, combustion occurs, and the temperature within the main combustion chamber rockets to a staggering 6,000 degrees Farenheit. That's hot enough not just to melt iron, but to bring it to the boiling point! This chemical reaction is so efficient that the combined energy of the shuttle's three main engines at full power would equal the energy created by 13 Hoover Dams (enough power to serve 16 million people).
Though every shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida, there are over 50 alternate landing sites.
- The External Tank is half the length of a football field; if all of its foam insulation were spread out on the ground, it would cover nearly one-half acre.
- The shuttle has two Solid Rocket Boosters. Each Solid Rocket Booster is two feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty, yet weighs three times as much. Combined, they consume 11,000 pounds of fuel per second, or two million times the gas mileage of an average family car!
- The Space Shuttle travels 25 times the speed of sound while in orbit. Its tires are filled with nitrogen.
- Up until 2007, a software glitch prevented the shuttle from orbiting from December to January, during the year change. The original software had to be reset each New Year.
- There have been six Space Shuttles: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour and Enterprise. Discover has flown the most missions; Enterprise was built for testing only; and Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger.
- More Space Shuttle Trivia from the Marshall Space Flight Center: http://www1.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/pdf/113069main_shuttle_trivia.pdf
- Visit www.coloring-pages-book-for-kids-boys.com: to print and color the Space Shuttle and other cool planes:
- Print and fold a Space Shuttle Paper Airplane or a Space Shuttle Paper Model:
©2009 Tammy Yee