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This view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis still connected to Russia’s Mir space station was photographed by the Mir-19 crew on July 4, 1995. The STS-71 mission was the first time that the shuttle docked with the Mir space station.

Space Shuttle Facts

  • Propellant weight at liftoff: 3,851,887 lbs.

  • Air pressure = 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi), same air pressure as sea level on Earth. (The space station is about 14 psi (equal to the average atmospheric pressure in Oklahoma City, altitude 1,285 ft; normal air pressure in Las Vegas = 13.6 psi, and in Denver it’s 12.1 psi).

  • Windows (six across the front, two looking into the payload bay, two overhead and one hatch) each are actually three panes, not just one. So how thick are they (discounting the hatch)? Outer: 0.6 inch; middle: 1.3 inches; inner: 0.5 inch

  • Missions (all 114) have begun from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Twenty-eight of those were launched at night.

  • At full power, the shuttle main engines generate, in watts, the equivalent output of 13 Hoover Dams.


NASA STS071-S-072


NASA STS088-365-020

A variety of white and gray clouds form the backdrop for this 35mm scene of the connected Zarya and Unity modules floating in space after having been released from Endeavour’s cargo bay a bit earlie . Six crewmembers, who had earlier spent the majority of their on-duty mission time working on the tandem of space hardware, watched from Endeavour as the joined modules moved away from the shuttle.

  • During the first two shuttle missions, the external tank was painted white. Beginning with STS-3, NASA decided not to paint the tank, saving 1,100 pounds on each flight.

  • The flow of fuel from the shuttle external tank into the main engines is equal to draining an average swimming pool in 25 seconds. The pump pressure equals that of a submarine three miles deep.

  • The shuttle’s solid rocket boosters have a combined thrust of 5.3 million pounds, which is equal to 44 million horsepower, or 14,700 six-axle diesel locomotives, or 400,000 subcompact cars.

  • The SRBs are two feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty (they’re 149 feet, 1.6 inches tall), but each, at 700 tons, weighs three times as much.

Where the wild things are

by Brad Thomas

C utting-edge technology and sophisticated rocket ships are often associated with NASA’s Johnson Space Center. But once inside the gates, it can become very apparent that engineers, astronauts and support personnel are not the only ones on site. They share the 1,580-acre facility with an abundance of creatures.

JSC is the home of a wide range of wildlife and domesticated animals. The wildlife includes, but is not limited to, deer, possums, squirrels, skunks, snakes, koi and a large assortment of feathered friends. There has even been a documented sighting of a bobcat on site. Also, JSC hosts domesticated livestock and is involved in an effort to breed an endangered species, the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken.

Stephanie Walker, a flight crew systems manager, said that she enjoys the outdoor surroundings at JSC, in particular the ducks. “I think it is a great stress release to watch the ducks,” she said. “Pure concrete does not relax me.”

NASA/Blair JSC2003E56650

Walker is also co-chairperson of the Wildlife Committee, which was chartered by the JSC Safety Action Team (JSAT). One purpose of the group is to educate JSC employees on how to coexist safely with JSC wildlife and provide information on seasonal wildlife issues.

Deer are the largest wild animals on site and are one of the animals most likely to be involved in an incident, in particular collisions with automobiles.

Wildlife Committee Co-chairperson Andy Ideler said that Texas A&M University estimates that there are between 160 to 174 deer on site. Ideler is responsible for the group’s deer committee.

JSAT started the deer committee to address the increasing deer population at the center. Ideler said that different options were discussed including capture/relocate and birth control before JSC opted for birth control.

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