Space Shuttle Facts

The Space Shuttle was a spacecraft which was used by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. Space Shuttles were used to carry astronauts and cargo into space. See the fact file below for more information about the Space Shuttle fleet.
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  • The space shuttle fleet has been made up of: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor. The space shuttle is 184 feet long. The orbiter is 122 feet long.
  • It takes only 8 minutes for the Space Shuttle to accelerate to a speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The liftoff weight of the space shuttle is 4.5 million pounds.
  • The main engine on the Space Shuttle weighs as much as a train locomotive, but puts out as much horse power as 39 locomotives.
  • The Space Shuttle is one of the most complicated and innovative machines ever built. It was a huge leap in technology when the first shuttle was launched, because it represented space craft that was re-useable.
  • Space Shuttle Columbia was the first ship in the NASA fleet. It completed 27 missions before being destroyed in re-entry when all seven of its astronauts were killed.
  • The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members.
  • Crews range in size from five to seven people. Over 600 crew members have flown on shuttle missions. It has also sent more than 3 million pounds of cargo into space. The longest any shuttle has stayed in orbit is 17.5 days, in November 1996.
  • A Space Shuttle and its boosters ready for launch are the same height as the Statue of Liberty but weigh almost three times as much.
  • The shuttle launches like a rocket, orbits like a spacecraft and lands like a plane.
  • Endeavor will be the last shuttle launched into space in September 2010. It will be the 134th space shuttle flight.