A workman is shown machining a series of holes to their proper size and alignment on a Space Shuttle Main Engine injector. Rocketdyne Division Plant, Canoga Park, California. 1977. The work to make the components for a Space Shuttle was incredibly complex and very difficult, and there was absolutely no room for errors to be made. The Space Shuttle Main Engine was bar none the most powerful reusable rocket engine that mankind had ever created, and their full power was equal to the output of 18 Hoover Dams. During a launch they operated for exactly 8 minutes and 40 seconds, and they had a combined output of 37 million horsepower. After the solid rockets are jettisoned, the main engines would accelerate the Space Shuttle from 3,000mph to over 17,000mph in a mere six minutes! Six Space Shuttles were built in total: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Enterprise and Endeavour, although Enterprise was only used for testing and was never capable of spaceflight. Out of those six there would be two catastrophic losses. Challenger would break apart on January 28th 1986 while launching into orbit, and Columbia would disintegrate on February 1st 2003 while reentering earth's atmosphere. Neither of the crews survived either accident, and a total of 14 astronauts were killed in both disasters. Nevertheless, the Space Shuttle Program had accomplished many things in the name of science and humanity, and after thirty years the program was retired in 2011, and all four surviving Space Shuttles are now in museums and on display.
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