Space Shuttles

A space shuttle is somewhat similar to a rocket and an airplane. It takes off like a rocket vertically but lands like an airplane on a runway. NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) has been using space shuttles since 1981 for various space programs. This was when the first space shuttle test flight took place. More than 600 astronauts have flown to outer space on space shuttles. A Shuttle can take up to seven astronauts.


Facts you didn’t know: –

  • Five space shuttles have been launched in space by NASA. Their names are: – Endeavour, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Atlantis.
  • Two of them, the Challenger and the Columbia have crashed.
  • The space shuttle was the first reusable spacecraft in the world.
  • They could easily carry satellites, space probes and other cargo to orbit around the earth.
  • The space shuttle system has four major components: – Two solid rocket boosters, the external tank, three main engines and the orbiter add-ons.
  • The external fuel tank is the only part that cannot be reused as it burns up in the atmosphere after launching.
  • In the 1970s, the prototype craft Enterprise had been launched but it was only used for tests. It never flies in space.
  • The combined mileage of all five orbiters is 513.7 million miles. This is 1.3 times the distance between Earth and Jupiter.
  • Thermal Protection System of the space shuttle contains approximately 30,000 sand tiles. These tiles are used to endure the intense heat.
  • Columbia was the heaviest space shuttle orbiter that weighed around 178,000 pounds.
  • A total of 14 astronauts lost their lives in two accidents in which Challenger and Columbia both were destroyed.


Timeline of space shuttle launching: –

Name of Space Shuttle Launch Date
Columbia April 12, 1981
Challenger January 28, 1986
Discovery July 26, 2005
Atlantis September 9, 2006
Endeavour August 8, 2007