Richard Hammond reveals the engineering connections in NASA’s Space Shuttle – the world’s first re-usable space craft. He goes backstage at Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida, to discover how an organ pump, tram tracks, a WWII anti-sonar device, a camera iris and a cannonball all helped create the most technologically advanced machine ever engineered by man. Conceived in the early 1970’s as the successor to the Apollo Moon missions, the Shuttle is a delivery system, designed to transport payloads such as the Hubble Telescope, and most of the International Space Station, into orbit, and return for its next cargo. The delivery van is the Orbiter – what most people call the Shuttle – which is mated with a huge external fuel tank and rocket boosters which are all jettisoned. Surviving the huge destructive forces of travelling to space and returning in usable form called for ingenious engineering compromises. The Shuttle is a rocket for the first part of its life, then morphs into a plane for the return journey.
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