Frequent questions had been asked about Rocket Engines and our anonymity in the universe. Questions such as, what lay beyond the Earth? What surrounds our solar system? What lies between our Galaxy and the next? To propose a valid answer, I would call it a void, near-vacuum, limitless darkness, or Space.
This region of the vast unending void is home to multiple planets, asteroids, solar systems, galaxies, black holes and so many other astronomical constructs and effects.
Since the era of man’s domination of planet Earth as an Apex predator, there presents no doubt that he would jet beyond this world and reach space in search of knowledge and a better understanding of planetary objects and phenomenons that lay beyond the grasp of his current knowledge.
Now, this is where the space shuttles (space buses as I call them)and rockets come in. These pieces of technology provided man with means of space travel, and even enacting structures in space.
What is a space shuttle?
Think of the space shuttle as a reusable space contraption capable of conveying payloads (loads carried by spacecraft) out of Earth’s atmosphere to orbit and back to Earth. Unlike earlier unmanned satellites and extremely limited cargo rockets, the space shuttle was the first space vehicle capable of carrying multiple humans and huge cargo into space.
This enormous flying bus could lift weights in excess of a thousand kilograms. In terms of weight, the space shuttle weighed over a thousand tonnes, with lots of in-built space. It was larger than the blue whale in both length and girth. This means the space shuttle easily hit over150 feet long with a girth equivalent to that of a Boeing 747.
The insides of this space bus were like a home of its own and had chambers for the astronauts present. One of the most notable contributions of the space shuttle was the conveying of the parts that built the international space station. Each launch of a shuttle was called a mission and according to Wikipedia, the space shuttle had a total of 133 successful missions and 2 unsuccessful ones. The shuttle reigned for 30 years. From April 12, 1981-July 21, 2011.
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If you take a close look at a space shuttle, it looks like a jumbo jet resting lazily on an orange hot air balloon, with two rockets to each side, and the whole contraption standing vertically. Then we mean the same thing. If you don’t, I guess a new design of the shuttle must have been manufactured in an alternate reality. Now, let’s get to business.
all the compacts of the space shuttle play important roles, and they were not put there for the fun of it. The jumbo jet looks like is called an ‘orbiter’ and it’s what you call the body of a space shuttle. It is equally the part that does the honors of rotating around the Earth and coming back to us. The orbiter provides room for astronauts to live in space, and perform experiments in space too. It equally conveys loads, satellites, and construction parts needed for our research and advancement.
Now, a contraption as heavy as an Orbiter would require a powerful force to take it off the ground, it wasn’t positioned to be really aerodynamic, so lift won’t be possible like the normal airplane. It would require a huge force to launch it off the ground, and this is where the double rocket engines play their parts. These rocket engines provide an enormous force capable of taking that cumbersome weight off the ground and sending it soaring through the air. It is ejected before the rest of the space shuttle leaves the Earth’s atmosphere and is picked up from the ocean where it crashed, for reuse.
We may be wondering what a hot air balloon is doing in space travels right? But this is in fact not a balloon. It is a metallic tank, housing combustion fuel required to continue the flight of a space shuttle out of Earth’s atmosphere. Because a huge amount of fuel is needed to send a shuttle into orbit, an internal fuel tank won’t be sufficient. Therefore, a disposable external tank was made and supplies the enormous fuel required for continued entry into orbit, after the rocket engines were dropped off. This tank is useless once empty and having performed its task, it is dropped off equally and burns up on re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. It is completely useless then, maybe it melts due to intense heat from re-entry.
If you are reading this, I would presume you are a science enthusiast and must have come across Newton’s third law. For those who might not know, this law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is basically the physics behind rocket engine propulsion. A rocket engine is one in which gas is combusted and released through a nozzle at high temperature and pressure, causing propulsion in the opposite direction of the released gas. To be more elaborate, a propellant and an oxidizer is mixed together and burnt in a combustion chamber.
The intense heat and reaction caused by the burning of the propellant accumulate and lead to high pressure in the chamber. A little outlet called a ‘throat’ is present beneath the chamber and opens up to release the hot gas at a really high temperature and pressure. This now propels a movement with a force equal to that of the hot gas, in a direction opposite to that of the gas. Rocket engines have used this principle in various degrees to achieve various feats in terms of flight and speed.
As we hit the end of this space-shuttled journey, I hope we all gained the insight that brought us to this content. Thank you all for reading, maybe you may be inspired and get to pilot a spacecraft one day.
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