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Atlantis Space Shuttle

Atlantis Space Shuttle
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Atlantis, the fourth orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center, was named after the first U.S. vessel used for oceanographic research. This incredible spaceship, which took five years to build, has completed several missions since rolling out of the plant in March 1985. It made its maiden voyage that same year, on October 3, on behalf of the Department of National Defense. It has been flying high ever since.

Atlantis is 37 meters (121 ft.) long, 24 meters (79 ft.) wide and stands 17 meters (56 ft.) tall. It may look and have the size of an average airliner, but is capable of four separate aerodynamic incarnations. A rocket when lifting off, it becomes a spaceship once in orbit. The shuttle then converts into a capsule prior to entering the atmosphere, and finally, lands like a glider, with the engines cut. This remarkably versatile vessel is constructed mainly of aluminum covered with reusable insulated cladding. The forward fuselage houses the flight crew area. This three-deck section features a total habitable volume of 73 cubic meters (2,190 cu. ft.), which includes the cockpit, crew cabin and lower deck. The mid- fuselage area is 18 meters (59 ft.) long, and consists of the payload bay used to store equipment needed for science experiments, the robot arm, satellites or even space probes. The aft fuselage houses the main engines. The shuttles Delta-type wings are made of lightweight alloy and are 1.5 meters (5 ft.) thick. Their underside, and part of their topside are covered with heat protection thermal tiles that help shield the vessel and crew during reentry into the, earth's atmosphere.


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