Facts About The Shuttle:
Official Name: While that name is the one that almost everyone recognizes, the full name is the Space Transportation System, or STS. The STS is comprised of the Orbiter, Solid Rocket Boosters, and External Tank.
Date started: The program was officially announced by President Nixon on 5 January 1972, and contracts were awarded for the major components that same year.
Contractors: North American Rockwell/Rockwell International (Orbiter), Rocketdyne (SSMEs) Morton Thiokol (SRBs), Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin (ET).
Wingspan: 78 feet
Length (STS): 184 feet
Gross Take-Off Weight: 4.4 Million pounds
Empty Weight, Shuttle: 165,000 pounds
Thrust, Solid Rocket Booster: 2,650,000 pounds
Thrust, Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME): 375,000 pounds
Fuel consumption, SSMEs: 3,105 pounds per second at 100% of rated thrust
Payload capability: 50,000 lbs to low-Earth orbit
Velocity at Main Engine Cut-Off (MECO): 17,500 miles per hour
Maximum aerodynamic heating on atmospheric entry: 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit
First Flight: 12 April 1981
Longest mission: 17.5 days