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Publié le : 11/5/2013 -Format: Document en format HTML protégé

Space Shuttle - astronomy.
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Space Shuttle - astronomy.
I

INTRODUCTION

Space Shuttle, spacecraft designed for transporting humans and cargo to and from orbit around Earth. The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) developed the shuttle in the 1970s to serve as a reusable rocket and spacecraft. This objective differed significantly from that of previous space programs in
which the launch and space vehicles could be used only once. After ten years of preparation, the first space shuttle, Columbia, was launched on April 12, 1981. Today
NASA has three space shuttles: Discovery, acquired in 1983; Atlantis, which arrived in 1985; and Endeavour, which joined the fleet in 1991. The Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics (USSR) started a shuttle program in 1988 with the Buran space shuttle, but the program was halted in 1993.
The space shuttle was initially used to deploy satellites in orbit; to carry scientific experiments such as Spacelab, a modular arrangement of experiments installed in the
shuttle's cargo bay; and to carry out military missions. As the program matured, the space shuttle was also used to service and repair orbiting satellites, to retrieve and
return to Earth previously deployed spacecraft, and to help build and maintain the International Space Station.
The space shuttle carries a wide range of equipment, known as the payload, into space, ranging from communication, military, and astronomical satellites; space
experiments for studying the apparent weightlessness (called microgravity) experienced aboard a shuttle flight; and human experimental facilities. Often, NASA
collaborates with other countries by allowing them to use shuttle cargo space for special projects.
The space shuttle is designed to leave Earth as a vertically launched rocket weighing up to 2.0 million kg (4.5 million lb) with 3 million kg (7 million lb) of thrust from its
multiple propulsion systems. The orbiter segment returns from space--withstanding the intense heat when entering Earth's atmosphere. Flown by the shuttle crew
much like an aircraft, the shuttle lands horizontally on a conventional airport runway.
The crew of the shuttle is an integral part of the system and is critical to the success of each mission. The flight crew is led by the commander and backed up by the
pilot--both are professional astronauts and proven pilots with extensive space systems and operations training. Their primary responsibility is to fly the shuttle as a
launch vehicle, spacecraft, and aircraft.
The remaining crew members--up to five more people--are responsible for the unique aspects of a particular space mission. The mission specialist is the lead astronaut
and ensures that the mission meets all the objectives. Payload specialists are experts in that mission's objectives and cargo, which are usually space experiments or
artificial satellites. Often the payload specialists are astronauts from other countries on board to help with a project in which their country has an interest.

II

SPACECRAFT AND SUPPORTING SYSTEMS

The space-shuttle system, called the Space Transportation System (STS), remains the most technologically advanced and complex machine in the world. It consists of
the orbiter, propulsion systems--two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and three main engines--and an external fuel tank.

A

Space-Shuttle Orbiter

The orbiter is both the brains and heart of the STS, and it contains the latest advances in flight control, thermal protection, and liquid-rocket propulsion. About the same
size and weight as a DC-9 aircraft (a fairly small two-engine jet airplane), the orbiter is composed of the pressurized crew compartment (which can carry up to eight
crew members under normal conditions and as many as ten in an emergency), the huge cargo bay, and the three main engines mounted on its aft, or rear, end.
The crew cabin has three levels: the flight deck, the mid-deck, and the utility area. Uppermost is the flight deck, where the commander and pilot control the craft,
surrounded by an array of switches and controls. During launch of a seven-member crew, two additional astronauts are positioned on the flight deck behind the
commander and pilot. The three other crew members are in launch positions in the mid-deck, which is below the flight deck.
The galley, toilet, sleep stations, and storage and experiment lockers are found in the mid-deck. Also located in the mid-deck are the side hatch for passage to and from
the vehicle before and after landing, and the airlock hatch into the cargo bay and space beyond. Astronauts pass through this hatch to don their space suits and
maneuvering units (called Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue, or SAFER, these units strap on an astronaut's back over the space suit and allow an astronaut to move about
in space without being tethered to the shuttle). This equipment prepares astronauts for extravehicular activities (EVAs), more popularly known as spacewalks. Below the
mid-deck's floor is a utility area for air and water tanks.
The space shuttle's cargo bay is adaptable to hundreds of tasks. Large enough to accommodate a tour bus at 18 by 4.6 m (60 by 15 ft), the cargo bay carries
satellites, spacecraft, and scientific laboratories for the modular Spacelab system to and from orbit around Earth. It also is a workstation for astronauts to repair
satellites, a foundation from which to erect space structures, and a storage area for satellites retrieved from space to be returned to Earth.
Mounted on the port (left, as seen while facing the nose of the shuttle) side of the cargo bay behind the crew quarters is the remote manipulator system (RMS),
developed and funded by the Canadian government. The RMS (about 15 m/50 ft in length) is a robot arm and hand with three joints analogous to those of the human
shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Two television cameras mounted near its elbow and wrist provide visual cues to the crew member who operates it from the rear station of
the orbiter's flight deck. The RMS can move anything from satellites to astronauts to and from the cargo bay or to different points in nearby space. It has been used on
many missions, deploying and retrieving various scientific and communications satellites.
Three of the orbiters, Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour, have carried special adapters, known as the orbiter docking system, in their cargo bays for attaching to the
Russian Mir space station. A tunnel connected the airlock of the shuttle to a circular mechanism that latched onto the docking module on Mir. Astronauts and
cosmonauts could move between the two spacecraft without having to don spacesuits. Atlantis's docking mechanism was installed in 1995, and both Discovery and
Endeavour had their docking mechanisms installed in 1997. Shuttle/Mir missions ended in 1998.
Thermal tile insulation and larger flexible sheets of insulating material (also known as the thermal protection system or TPS) cover the underbelly, bottom of the wings,
and other heat-...


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