Kid's Guide To Space Shuttles And Their Parts

Space Shuttles are made to send astronauts to and from space. Once there, astronauts are trained to collect information on space, planets, stars and comets. They can also be sent to repair other crafts like the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station. Military missions can be executed in space and satellites can also be launched. Currently, the United States has halted all Space Shuttle missions and will either send unmanned rockets, buy seats on other countries spacecrafts or the private sector will push space exploration.

How are the space shuttles constructed?

Space shuttles are made up of many different parts, but the three main pieces are the rocket boosters, the fuel tank and the orbiter. There are two rocket boosters that are used to lift the shuttle off the ground and blast into space. The tank on the outside of the shuttle holds fuel to be used by the rocket boosters for launch. Orbiters carry the passengers, astronaut and whatever they bring with them.


How do they lift off?

Space shuttles are rockets, not engines. Engines need air to quickly push through the system and create force. Rockets do not need air to run, which is why they work so well in space, where there is no air. During launch, NASA uses solid fuels to push the space shuttle up and out, sending the shuttle or even a satellite into orbit. After the launch, the fuel tanks separate and fall off the shuttle so it can easily orbit at a lighter mass.


What keeps them in the air and where is the space shuttle destined after lift-off?

After lift-off and once in space, shuttles can use the Earth’s natural pull to keep them in orbit. Because the Earth has gravity, which pushes down toward the center of the planet, space shuttles can stay in orbit circling the area without having to use any force. The International Space Station was made for all astronauts to be able to live in space while working and conducting research. Orbiters are generally very small and only meant for small periods of time, so the space station is a much more comfortable and safe way for people to live in space. With 15 countries from Europe, North America, Japan and Russia all involved, it is a culturally diverse and politically safe place for astronauts to stay.


How long do shuttle trips usually last?

Lengths of shuttle trips have increased significantly since they first began at only a few days and were only single-use. During space shuttles final flights they usually stayed in orbit between one and two weeks with reusable rockets. It is important for the research to stay as long as possible, but it is very expensive to add any weight to the rocket. This includes weight of necessary supplies for research and food to eat, which can limit the amount of time in space. 


Achievements made capable because of space travel

There are many achievements that were made capable because of space travel. For one, landing on the moon is considered one of the greatest and most historic events ever in history. Astronauts have also been able to take pictures of our galaxy and of unknown areas in space. Information on black holes, stars, comets and the makeup of space have helped scientists better understand what’s out there and if there could be other life outside of Earth. Samples of other planets have also been taken, from Moon rocks to Mars’ sand, there is so much to be learned from space travel.


Famous Space Shuttles

Space Shuttle Enterprise was never flown into space but it is considered the very first Space Shuttle orbiter. As it did not have an engine or a heat shield it was not capable of surviving a full launch. Space Shuttle Columbia was the very first orbital capable of space flight and fully completed 27 missions before the disaster of being destroyed in 2003. Space Shuttle Discovery is responsible for flying the Hubble Space Telescope into the Earth’s orbit. Space Shuttle Challenger halted the shuttle program for over two years when it was destroyed only a minute and a half into takeoff. Space Shuttle Endeavor was the last to ever be constructed, replacing the Challenger and was at first intended to be the last to ever be sent into orbit. Endeavor is known for being the first to be sent for a service mission, aiding the Hubble Space Telescope. Space Shuttle Atlantis is the last shuttle within the Space Shuttle Program that was launched on July 21, 2011.

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