26 Fascinating Facts About Space Shuttles

In 1984, Kathryn Sullivan became the first American woman to perform a spacewalk aboard the Challenger.

Since I was a young boy, I have been passionate about everything related to space, and like many other boys my age, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut when I grew up.

Space shuttles have always fascinated me because of the phenomenon of gravity, the incredible feeling of soaring into space beyond the skies, and the connection to the unknown.

Here, we will share our admiration and interest in NASA space shuttles with 26 interesting facts about these vessels that take us to the undiscovered above.

After completing 31 missions, with the first taking place in October 1985, Atlantis had its final scheduled flight in May 2010 to the International Space Station (ISS).

In 2003, the Columbia exploded during re-entry, resulting in the death of seven astronauts.

Before landing, the Columbia orbited the earth 37 times during its first trip in 1981.

The final voyage crew consisted of three 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.

The Arlington National Cemetery houses a Columbia memorial with a Shuttle outline and a date.

During re-entry, the Shuttle’s highest temperature was 3000’F, which is approximately 1650’C.

Atlantis holds the record for being the first space shuttle to launch an interplanetary probe, The Magellan, which mapped 98% of Venus’ surface.

Due to its dependency on its own fuel supply, Atlantis had the shortest missions of all space shuttles, lasting up to 14 days.

An astronaut on a shuttle receives nearly 4lb (1.8kg) of food per day to sustain them.

John Glenn became the oldest person to go to space in 1998, aboard the Discovery.

The Columbia was devastated by a piece of insulation that broke off and pierced the wing.

The Discovery shuttle has approximately 23,000 exterior tiles.

The Endeavour was named by the winners of a U.S. competition among young students in 1988, 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 never made it into space. It is now on display alongside the other remaining shuttles in U.S. museums.

The Endeavour was capable of reaching orbital speeds of 27,870 km/h (17,318 mph) and weighed a whopping 171,960 lbs (78,000 kg) when empty.

As of 2011, NASA shuttles had docked at the ISS 37 times and had also docked at Russia’s space station numerous times.

The Atlantis took half as long to construct as its closest counterpart, the Columbia, and weighs approximately 4,000 lb less than the Columbia, which is equivalent to the weight of an average car.

During 30 years of flight, there were two 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 nearly 565 kilometers, which is 680 times less than the distance to the moon.

The failure rate of space shuttles during their time in space is incredibly high, with two out of five shuttles being destroyed. In 1986, the Challenger exploded on launch, resulting in the death of seven people only 73 seconds after leaving the ground. However, in 1984, Kathryn Sullivan became the first American woman to do a spacewalk aboard the Challenger. The Discovery has flown the most missions compared to all other orbiters, but due to its extensive use, it appears worn and dirty rather than shiny white. The world of space is a never-ending source of fascinating facts and information, and there is much more to discover beyond the information provided here. Research and explore for yourself the wonders of space and reach for the stars while you can.


1. What is a space shuttle?

A space shuttle is a reusable spacecraft designed to carry astronauts and cargo into orbit around Earth. It was developed by NASA in the 1970s and was used for over three decades to launch and repair satellites, conduct scientific experiments in space, and assemble the International Space Station.

2. How many space shuttles were built?

A total of five space shuttles were built: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. All five shuttles flew a combined total of 135 missions before the program was retired in 2011.

3. How fast can a space shuttle travel?

A space shuttle can travel at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) in orbit around Earth. This allows it to circle the entire planet in just 90 minutes.

4. How long can a space shuttle stay in orbit?

A space shuttle can typically stay in orbit for up to two weeks, although some missions have lasted as long as 17 days. The shuttle’s fuel and supplies, as well as the astronauts’ needs, determine the length of the mission.

5. What was the most famous mission of the space shuttle program?

One of the most famous missions of the space shuttle program was the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. The telescope has since provided astronomers with stunning images of distant galaxies and other celestial objects, as well as important scientific data about the universe.

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