The Physics Factbook™
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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|Bibliographic Entry||Result |
|Messer, Thomas. How To Describe The Shuttle's Orbit. EarthKAM. University of California at San Diego, 1998.||"During EarthKAM flights the Shuttle flies at an altitude between 200 and 240 miles."||320–390 km|
|Space Travel. Compton's Encyclopedia Online. The Learning Company, 1999.||"United States launch vehicles range from the four-stage, solid-propellant Scout, which is capable of placing a 425-pound payload in an Earth orbit 300 nautical miles high, to the manned, reusable fleet of space shuttles, which can place 65,000 pounds into orbit."||560 km|
|Loman, D. Paul. The Space Shuttle Photographic Program; Kosmos. Remote Sensing Tutorial. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 1999.||"From a typical altitude of 300 km (186 mi), a frame covers ground dimensions of about 225 x 450 km (140 x 280 mi)."||300 km|
|Dymoulin, Jim. STS-1. Space Shuttle Launches. NASA Kennedy Space Center, 1981.||"Orbit: Altitude: 166 nm Inclination: 40.3 degrees Orbits: 37 Duration: 2 days, 6 hours, 20 min, 53 seconds Distance: 1,074,567 miles"||308 km|
|Olsen, Carrie, Orbital Velocity and Period Calculator, 1995||"Using a typical Shuttle flight altitude of 300 km, calculate the Orbiter's velocity and period below."||300 km|
Space is the final frontier in which we as pioneers boldlygo where no man has gone before. For many decades, engineers havebeen trying to develop technology that can help man learn moreabout space and beyond the universe. Although borders of spacehave already been crossed space still holds mysteries and manysurprises. The first steps toward exploring and traveling in spacewere taken with kites, balloons, and airplanes. With these devices,however, man was still confined to the Earth's atmosphere, becausethey all depend upon air for support and the airplane requiresoxygen from the air to burn its fuel. It was only until duringthe time of the Cold War when there was a competitive race forspace between the United States and the former USSR Both of thesetwo countries were racing against the clock in research to bethe first to reach space. The USSR was the first with its Sputniksatellite to be in space. This marked the new space era. Lateron the US finally sent up one of its own satellites into space.
It was the creation of rockets and spacecraft that finallyextended man's reach beyond the atmosphere. For flights abovethe Earth's atmosphere a device is needed that carries both itsfuel and its oxidizer and that does not depend on the atmospherefor support. This device is the rocket which operates using Newton'sThird Law of Motion (for every action there is an equal and oppositereaction). A rocket is driven forward by the pressure of expandinggases against the walls of the combustion, or thrust, chamber.
With such technology, there have been many shuttle missionsthroughout the late Twentieth Century into space. Shuttles carrybooster rockets atop one another. As the booster rockets exhausttheir propellants and as the shuttle climbs higher and higherin altitude, these rockets are released. This increases efficiencybecause the mass that must be accelerated is reduced. Space shuttlesare designed to reduce the cost and increase the effectivenessof using space for educational, research, defense, and commercialneeds. Most basic missions have certain objectives. For example,the mission objective of the STS-1 (1981) was to demonstrate safelaunch into orbit and safe return of the orbiter and crew. Italso had to verify the combined performance of the entire shuttlevehicle–orbiter, solid rocket boosters and externaltank. Basically, this mission was to test equipment in space.
Shuttles can climb high altitudes with new technology thatengineers have developed. As of now, typical shuttle flights rangeat around altitudes above 300 km.
Andres Mok -- 2000
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