From a very young age I fell in love with all things astronomical, and like so many little boys my age, I grew up wanting to be an astronaut when I was older.
Because of this love of all things space-related, space shuttles fascinated me -the phenomenon of gravity, soaring into space beyond the skies, and the connection to the unknown.
Here we’re going to share our appreciation and interest in the NASA space shuttles with 26 facts about these vessels to the undiscovered above.
- After flying 31 missions, with the first being in October 1985, Atlantis had its last scheduled flight in May 2010 to the ISS (International Space Station).
- In 2003, the Columbia exploded causing the death of seven astronauts on re-entry.
- Before landing, the Columbia orbited the earth 37 times in 1981 during its first trip.
- The crew of its final voyage were 3 Mission Specialists; David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, a Payload Specialist and Commander; Ilan Ramon and Michael Anderson, Shuttle Commander; Rick Husband, and Shuttle Pilot; William McCool.
- Arlington National Cemetery is the home of a Columbia memorial which is dated and has an outline of a Shuttle.
- During the re-entry, the highest temperature experienced by the Shuttle was 3000’F which is almost 1650’C.
- The Atlantis holds the record of being the first space shuttle to launch an interplanetary probe, The Magellan, which went on to map 98% of Venus’ surface.
- The Atlantis has the shortest missions of the space shuttles, reaching a maximum of 14 days due to its dependency on its own fuel supply.
- Aboard a shuttle, each day an astronaut is allocated almost 4lb (1.8kg) of food to sustain them.
- John Glenn was aboard the Discovery when he became the oldest person to go to space in 1998.
- A piece of insulation caused the devastation of the Columbia – it pierced the wing after breaking off.
- There are around 23,000 tiles on the outside of the Discovery shuttle.
- In 1988 the Endeavour was named by the winners of a U.S. competition among young students, making it the only shuttle ever named by children.
- Mamoru Mohri became the first Japanese astronaut during his time on the Endeavour space shuttle.
- The Enterprise was a prototype shuttle that sadly never actually made it into space. It is placed alongside the other remaining shuttles in U.S. museums.
- The Endeavour was capable of orbital speeds of 27,870 km/h (17,318 mph) and weighed a staggering 171,960 lbs (78,000 kg) when empty.
- As of 2011, the ISS has been docked by a NASA shuttle 37 times and it has docked at Russia’s space station numerous times as well.
- The Atlantis took half as long to construct as its nearest counterpart the Columbia and weighs about 4,000 lb less than the Columbia which is the weight of the average car.
- During the 30 years of flight, there were 2 female space shuttle commanders; Pamela Melroy and Eileen Collins. Eileen was part of the Columbia mission.
- The space shuttle had an average maximum flight distance of 350 miles or almost 565 kilometers, which would mean it would need to fly 680 times further to reach the moon.
- Two of the five space shuttles were destroyed during their time of space travel which is an insanely large failure rate for modern travel.
- In 1986 the Challenger managed to explode on launch killing seven people in total.
- It took only 73 seconds for the craft to leave the ground until it exploded.
- Aboard the Challenger in 1984, Kathryn Sullivan was the first ever American woman to do a spacewalk.
- The Discovery has flown the most missions compared to all other orbiters.
- Due to the immense amount of missions it has flown, the Discovery is often remarked as being very dirty and worn when people see it for the first time rather than the shiny white we imagine.
The wonders of space is a never ending source of facts and information for those of us who love all things astronomical and as we see from the above facts space shuttles are no different.
The list here only scratches the surface! Research more for yourself and you will open a world of knowledge. So kids, enjoy your dreams and reach for the stars whilst you can.