It takes only about eight minutes for the Space Shuttle to accelerate to a speed of more than 17,000 miles (27,359 kilometers) per hour.
The Space Shuttle main engine weighs 1/7th as much as a train engine but delivers as much horsepower as 39 locomotives.
The turbopump on the Space Shuttle main engine is so powerful it could drain an average family-sized swimming pool in 25 seconds.
The Space Shuttle’s three main engines and two solid rocket boosters generate some 7.3 million pounds (3.3 million kilograms) of thrust at liftoff. Compare that with America’s first two manned launch vehicles, the Redstone which produced 78,000 pounds (35,380 kilograms) of thrust, and the Atlas, which produced 360,000 pounds (163, 293 kilograms).
The liquid hydrogen in the Space Shuttle main engine is -423 degrees Fahrenheit (-253 degrees Centigrade), the second coldest liquid on Earth, and when burned with liquid oxygen, the temperature in the engine’s combustion chamber reaches 3,316 degrees C.)
The energy released by the three Space Shuttle main engines is equivalent to the output of 23 Hoover Dams.
Each of the Shuttle’s solid rocket motors burns 5 tons (4,536 kilograms) of propellant per second, a total of 1.1 million pounds (498,952 kilograms) in 120 seconds. The speed of the gases exiting the nozzle is more than 6,000 miles (9,656 kilometers) per hour, about five times the speed of sound or three times the speed of a high-powered rifle bullet. The plume of flame ranges up to 500 feet (152 meters) long.
The combustion gases in a solid rocket motor are at a temperature of 6,100 degrees Fahrenheit (3,371 degrees Centigrade), two-thirds the temperature of the surface of the sun. While that temperature is hot enough to boil steel, special insulation inside the motor protects the steel case so well that the outside of the case reaches only about 130 degrees F. (54 degrees C.).
A stacked booster is the same height as the Statue of Liberty (not including pedestal) — 151 feet (46 meters) — but weighs almost three times as much.
The four engines of a Boeing 747 jet produce 188,000 pounds (85,275 kilograms) of thrust, while just one SRM produces more than 17 times as much thrust — 3.3 million pounds (1.5 million kilograms). A pair of SRM’s are more powerful than 35 jumbo jets at takeoff.
If their heat energy could be converted to electric power, two SRMs firing for two minutes would produce 2.2 million kilowatt hours of power, enough to supply the entire power demand of 87,000 homes for a full day.
The Shuttle’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS), or robot arm, provided by the Canadian Space Agency, weighs about 905 pounds (411 kilograms) on Earth but can move cargo in space weighing 66,000 pounds (29,937 kilograms), objects about the size of a Greyhound bus.