Friday, March 16, 2012

In space, no one can hear you say "Holy crap that's cool!"

For all of its faults, the Space Shuttle was still a marvel of engineering.

"The Stack" weighed in at a hair under 4.5 million pounds, and it took a lot of power to get that much mass into orbit. The fully loaded orbiter weighed 240,000 pounds, about the same as a 16"/50 Mk 7 gun barrel from an IOWA-class battleship.

That means roughly 95% of the total launch weight* was fuel to get the shuttle into orbit.

After the loss of the Columbia in 2003, NASA mounted external cameras on the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters to monitor debris strikes during ascent. Not only did this improve the safety of the shuttle, it gives us stunning views like the one below.

The sound was re-mastered by Skywalker Sound, so I suppose George Lucas can be forgiven for some of the sins committed in the prequels. But not Jar-Jar.

* I'm well aware of the difference between weight and mass, nerd. This isn't a physics class.

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