It’s a sad time for space-enthusiasts, science-geeks (like myself), and human enterprise in space. Though Atlantis, and the remainder of our space program, has already departed, we can still look back on decades of intellectual progress and unprecedented human venture into the last frontier.
While I could wax lyrical about the importance of space exploration or the programs themselves, how about a few facts to wet your appetite?
An Xbox 360 has more power than the shuttle’s flight computer?
“The flight computer aboard the space shuttle has less than one percent of the power of an Xbox 360 game console. Astronauts load programs directing the phases of a mission – liftoff, orbit, landing – into the computer one at a time after removing the program for the previous segment. Why hasn’t NASA upgraded the computer? The agency values its 30-year history of reliability. That said, astronauts don’t go into space with only one computer. Crew laptops and other laptops also make the trip.”
Each launch gets its own patch
It’s a gas sucker
“If the orbiter’s main engines pumped water instead of fuel, they would drain an average-sized swimming pool every 25 seconds. Because liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel the main engines, the majority of exhaust produced is water vapor.”
It Lands on Michelin tires
“The orbiter lands on special Michelin tires not much larger than truck tires. Like most aviation tires, the shuttle’s tires are filled with nitrogen to a pressure of 340 psi. Michelin says “a main landing gear tire can carry three times the load of a Boeing 747 tire or the entire starting line-up of a NASCAR race – 40 race cars – all hitting the pavement at up to 250 miles per hour.”
[Via The Huntsville Times]