The Physics Factbook™
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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|Bibliographic Entry||Result |
|Hawkes, Nigel. Space Shuttle. New York: Gloucester Press, 1982: 33.||"The speed of a space shuttle in orbit is about 17,580 miles an hour."||7860 m/s |
|"Space Shuttle." Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1993-1997 Microsoft Corp.||"The SRBs take the space shuttle to an altitude of 45 km (28 mi) and a speed of 4973 km per hour (3094 mph) before they separate and fall back into the ocean to be retrieved, refurbished, and prepared for another flight."||1380 m/s |
(at booster separation)
|Dunn, Marcia. "The End of the Challenger." AP Online, 19 May 2000.||"Challenger was traveling at a speed of 18,000 miles an hour, at a height of 46,000 feet when it blew up."||8000 m/s |
(at Challenger explosion)
|Collins Michael. Liftoff: The Story of America's Adventure in Space. New York: Grove Press, 1988: 69.||"Speed: 17,460 miles per hour."||7,800 m/s|
|"NASA Charts Course to Sail the Stars on Largest Spacecraft Ever Built." Business Wire, 2000.||"The space shuttles on-orbit speed of five miles per second."||8000 m/s |
The space shuttle was developed by the National Aeronauticsand Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA. The vehicleconsists of a winged orbiter, two solid-rocket boosters, and anexternal fuel tank. As with previous spacecraft, the shuttle islaunched from a vertical position. Liftoff thrust is derived fromthe orbiter's three main liquid-propellant engines and the boosters.After two minutes, the boosters use up their fuel, separate fromthe spacecraft, and after deployment of parachutes are recoveredfollowing splashdown. During this time, the speed of the shuttleis about 1400 meters per second.
After about eight minutes of flight, the orbiter's main enginesshut down; the external tank is then jettisoned and burns up asit reenters the atmosphere. The orbiter meanwhile enters orbitafter a short burn of its two small Orbiting Maneuvering System(OMS) engines. At this time, its top speed is an amazing 8,000 meters per second! To return to earth, the orbiter turns around,fires its OMS engines to reduce speed, and, after descending throughthe atmosphere lands like a glider.
After four orbital test flights (1981-1982) of the space shuttleColumbia, operational flights began in November of 1982.On January 28, 1986, a shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff,killing all seven astronauts. Shuttle flights were suspended untilSeptember 1988, while design problems were corrected, and thenresumed on a more conservative schedule; NASA was forced to reemphasizeexpendable rockets to reduce the cost of placing payloads in space.By the end of 2000, 102 missions had been completed and five differentorbiters had been seen in service.
Inna Sokolyanskaya -- 2001
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