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Space Shuttle is Huge!

Pete Brown - 16 June 2008

The three of us (me, Melissa and Ben) all went to the National Air and Space Museum - Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA (not the one in DC) this weekend. This is where the Smithsonian keeps all the really big things like the Concorde, the Enola Gay, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

It turned out to be less exciting for Ben than we thought (he's really into airplanes and spaceships, but only when they're moving and making lots of noise, it turns out), but we did all get to see something really cool - the space shuttle.

Let me say that the shuttle is much bigger than I ever thought it was. I mean, I knew it was pretty big, but I didn't quite grok just how ginormous this thing is.

It's pretty dark inside, so this is a terrible photo. However, it really does show the size compared to the people at the table right under the tail.


The other thing I found interesting was just how small the Lockheed Martin SR-71 blackbird is. I built a model of that when in highschool and always pictured it as this huge plane. Instead, it's pretty low and sleek, sized much more like a fighter jet than the giant plane it looks to be when scaled down.

posted by Pete Brown on Monday, June 16, 2008
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1 comment for “Space Shuttle is Huge!”

  1. Oskar Austegardsays:
    Yeah, was surprised how small the Blackbird is too...

    The other thing I never realized about the shuttle is that it is MUCH heavier than the ISS: by a factor of 7.3 to 1...

    That, and the fact that the payload of the shuttle is about 1% of the total mass of the shuttle (not counting mass of solid rocket boosters or external fuel tank). Compare that to jets which typically have a payload of ~20% of total weight...

    In fact, if it was just a matter of putting mass in space, the shuttle could replicate (the mass of) the space station in 5 trips.

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