[LINK] Finally up to date on the Shuttle

Pilcher, Fred Fred.Pilcher@act.gov.au
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 10:37:18 +1000


> It was pained black to help radiate heat. The plane got 
> several inches 
> longer due to expansion when it was flying. The leading edges of the 
> wings got to over 500 degrees. The fuel was used as part of 
> the cooling 
> system but even so got to 350 degrees and needed to be custom made. 
> Just about everything was made of special materials able to 
> resist high 
> temperatures. Each of it's two engines could put out more power than 
> the Queen Mary's four turbines combined and sucked in 100,000 cubic 
> feet of air each second. On take off it went from 0 to 200mph in 20 
> seconds. You couldn't fly it lower than 10,000 feet because of the 
> damage it could cause. There was one flight where one flew at 
> 2,092mph 
> at 85,068 feet. New York to London in one hour and fifty five 
> minutes. 
> Blackbirds flew for 25 years. Nothing then or since has approached 
> their capability within the atmosphere. Unlike the U2 none were ever 
> shot down. They were also expensive.

Extraordinary, Tony.

I also believe that it was designed to leak like a seive when when it was on
the ground and constantly stood in a pool of its own fuel which ran from its
wing tanks. The gaps sealed once it was in the air and the metal expanded
from the heat.

They had to detach the towbar from the tractor when they pulled it out onto
the runway. If they'd left it attached, even starting one engine and
bringing it to idle speed would have bent the towbar like a strand of wet
spaghetti. For the same reason it couldn't use its brakes once the engines
were started.

I wonder what they've replaced it with?  :-)