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- During launch countdown, at approximately T-7 seconds, the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) roar to life. When the controllers indicate normal operation, the solid rocket boosters ignite and the shuttle blasts off. Initially, the SSMEs throttle down to reduce stress during the period of maximum dynamic pressure, but soon after, they throttle up to propel the orbiter to 17,500 miles per hour. In just under 9 minutes, the three SSMEs burn over 1.6 million pounds of propellant, and temperatures inside the main combustion chamber reach 6,000 F. To cool the engines, liquid hydrogen circulates through miles of tubing at -423 F. From 1981to 2011, the Space Shuttle fleet carried crew and cargo into orbit to perform a myriad of unprecedented tasks. After 30 years and 135 missions, the feat of engineering known as the SSME boasted a 100-percent flight success rate.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20120001874.
Spinoff 2011; 130-131; NASA/NP-2011-11-780-HQ.
- No Copyright.
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