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  • The Space Shuttle

    Space ShuttleNASA uses the Space Shuttle to launch satellites and astronauts into space. The Shuttle blasts off like a rocket, flies around Earth as a spaceship, and lands like an airplane.

    The three main parts of a shuttle are the external tank, the rocket boosters, and the orbiter. The external tank is a large fuel tank that feeds oxygen and hydrogen to the orbiter's main engines during launch and ascent. The two solid rocket boosters burn solid fuel during the first minutes of launch and ascent. Once they burn out, they drop off and parachute into the ocean. The orbiter is the part that carries the astronauts and payload.

    Now test your skills and find the Space Shuttle terms in the puzzle below. Using the Word Glossary, find the hidden words in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal spot in the puzzle.


    Solid Rocket BoostersColumbia
    External TankChallenger
    The OrbiterEnterprise

    Word Glossary

    Solid Rocket Boosters - Burn solid fuel during the first minutes of launch and ascent.
    External Tank - Large fuel tank that feeds oxygen and hydrogen to the orbiter's main engines during launch and ascent.
    The Orbiter - The Orbiter Fleet was developed as NASA's reusable Space Shuttle series.
    Discovery - Discovery was the third of NASA's reusable spaceflight fleet. It was completed in November 1983. The Discovery successfully deployed the Hubble Space Telescope on mission STS-31 in April 1990. Discovery is named for two famous sailing ships: one sailed by Henry Hudson in 1610-11 to search for a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the other by James Cook on a voyage during which he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.
    Atlantis - Atlantis was completed in April 1985 and flew until April 1991. The Atlantis is named after a two-masted sailing ship that was operated for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 1930 to 1966.
    Endeavour - The Endeavour was the fifth spaceship built in the Orbiter fleet and was completed in August 1987. Endeavour is named after the first ship commanded by 18th century British explorer James Cook.
    Columbia - Columbia was NASA's first in the Orbiter fleet that flew into space. It was completed in March 1979, and this series flew until 2003 when a tragic accident destroyed it while it was re-entering Earth's atmosphere. Columbia was named after a small sailing vessel that operated out of Boston in 1792 and explored the mouth of the Columbia River.
    Challenger - Challenger was NASA's second reusable spaceship in the Orbiter fleet. It was completed in July 1982 and flew for three years. The Challenger was named after British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans during the 1870's.
    Enterprise - Enterprise was NASA's first spaceship in the Orbiter series. It never flew into space but provided critical proof that the shuttle could fly in the atmosphere and land like a normal airplane. It was originally to be named Constitution, but viewers of the popular TV show "Star Trek" started a write-in campaign urging the White House to select the name Enterprise.
    Pathfinder - The Space Shuttle Pathfinder is a 75-ton Space Shuttle mock-up made of steel. It was initially built and used by NASA to practice handling and moving of actual Space Shuttles. It was later purchased by a Japanese organization that refurbished the steel mock-up to more closely resemble an actual Space Shuttle and named her the Pathfinder, for purposes of showing it in a Tokyo space exhibition. The Pathfinder has since been returned to the U.S. and is presently on display at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
    Shuttle - The Shuttle is the vehicle used to carry astronauts into space.
    Space - The expanse in which the solar system, stars, and galaxies exist; the universe. It begins at approximately 62 miles above Earth.


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