When you’re traveling to outer space, you need a huge ship to get you there and space shuttles are just the ticket.
How much does the space shuttle weigh?
The total liftoff weight for a space shuttle was approximately 4.4 million pounds (1,995,806 kg), or over 2,000 tons.
This included the weight of the orbital, 2 solid rocket boosters, and its external tank and fuel.
The orbiter, which resembles an airplane and is the part that houses the astronauts and flies into space.
The 2 solid rocket boosters have the capacity to hold over 1 million pounds of fuel each.
The orbital that breaks away from these rocket boosters and external tank, and then goes into orbit and returns to earth, weighs almost 200,000 pounds, which is about the weight of a Blue Whale.
How Many Shuttles Were Made?
Only 6 of these massive space vehicles were ever built by NASA. They include Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, Endeavour and Enterprise.
Between 1981 and 2011, 135 missions took place. Many of these missions were successful and have resulted in huge advances for us here on earth.
However, there have also been some setbacks along the way too, with many missions cancelled and disasters such as the Challenger and Columbia disasters, which took place in 1986 and 2003 respectively.
~ Fun Fact ~
The speeds and miles clocked up by the Space Shuttles that have successfully been launched from planet earth are mind-boggling. When these spacecrafts traveled through orbit, they were reaching speeds of up to 17,500 mph and traveled 513.7 million miles (826.7 million km) in total!