This looks interesting…
They are called clătite (type of very thin pancake). Auntie Lili taught me how to make them 🙂 We went together to the California Science Centre to see the Endeavour, where I got another stamp!
Endeavour was the youngest member of the now retired space shuttle fleet. The orbiter was built as a replacement for the space shuttle Challenger which was lost in the January 1986 accident together with the seven-astronaut crew. Endeavour was the only shuttle to have been named by children. In 1988, NASA staged a national competition among elementary and secondary school students for a name for the new shuttle. The students were given some guidance, the name had to be based on a historic oceangoing research or exploration vessel. The space shuttle is named after the British HMS Endeavour, the first ship commanded by 18th century British explorer James Cook. On its maiden voyage in 1768, Cook sailed into the South Pacific and around Tahiti to observe the passage of Venus between the Earth and the Sun. During another leg of the journey, Cook discovered New Zealand, surveyed Australia and navigated the Great Barrier Reef. The space shuttle carried a piece of the original wood from Cook’s ship inside the cockpit. The name also honoured Endeavour, the Command Module of Apollo 15, which was also named after Cook’s ship.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour carried the crew that undertook the first repair and servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993 (STS-61). The International Space Station can date its birth to Endeavour’s STS-88 mission in December 1998. That flight took the first American component of the station – the Unity Node, the passageway that connects the working and living modules – to space and joined it to the Russian Zarya module which was already in orbit. On its final STS-134 mission, Endeavour made another significant contribution to the ISS, delivering the final big piece yet to be added to the station from the American side – the $1.5 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer physics experiment.
There is a tribute to the space shuttle Endeavour in Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Centre at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. It features Endeavour soaring into orbit above the sailing vessel HMS Endeavour for which it was named. The Cupola, delivered to the International Space Station by Endeavour on STS-130, frames various images that represent the processing and execution of the Space Shuttle Program. Clockwise from top, are the first-ever use of a drag chute during the STS-49 landing, rollout to a launch pad, a ferry flight return to Kennedy, rolling into an orbiter processing facility, docking to the International Space Station, and lifting operations before being mated to an external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters in the Vehicle Assembly Building. The background image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and signifies the first shuttle servicing mission, which was performed by Endeavour’s STS-61 crew. Another element of the background is a photograph of the STS-130 launch taken by James Vernacotola entitled “Waterway to Orbit”, which won honourable mention in a 2011 National Geographic photography contest. Crew-designed patches from Endeavour’s maiden voyage through its final mission are shown ascending toward the stars. Five orbiter tributes are on display in the firing room, representing Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Endeavour and Discovery.
Puffles and Honey admiring the five orbiter tributes in Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Centre at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida 🙂
At California Science Centre there is a tribute wall to all Endeavour’s missions.
Little Puffles and Honey got to sit on two of the tires that Endeavour used on its final flight, STS-134. Very smooth! 🙂
Three main engines are used to launch a shuttle into orbit, along with help from a pair of solid-fuelled boosters that separate two minutes after launch. A space shuttle main engine burns at 3315 degrees Celsius, a temperature hot enough to boil iron!, but the outside of the nozzle remains cool to the touch. Prior to launch, sometimes it even frosts over. A number of advances had to be made to design a rocket engine that is more than 99.9 percent efficient, which means that almost all of its hydrogen and oxygen is used to create thrust. For comparison, an automobile engine is about a third as efficient, since most of its energy is created in the form of heat that does not turn the wheels. The advances did not come easily for designers who, working in the 1970s before computer-assisted design became commonplace, ran many of their calculations on slide rules and used judgments based on the experience they gained building massive engines for the Saturn V moon rocket.
The liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the main engines is stored in the large, orange external tank, the only component of the space shuttle stack that is not reusable. When the main engines finished firing eight and a half minutes after launch, their work for the entire shuttle mission was done! At that point, the external tank that fed the propellants to the main engines detached from the orbiter and fell into the ocean. Because the propellants are hydrogen and oxygen, when they combust in the engine, the only exhaust is water.
The part that everyone sees at launch shooting flames and supersonic exhaust is the bell or nozzle. Although a lot is happening inside the nozzle, like gas exiting at 15,400 kph, it’s one of the least active parts of the machine during launch. The real action is taking place in front of the engine bell in a maze of hidden machinery called the powerhead. The nozzle allows the engine to gather the thrust, but the powerhead is what actually gives the thrust. The powerhead is home to four turbopumps, a robust computer controller and a network of ducts, wiring and valves designed to release 500,000 pounds of thrust without exploding. It is a marvel of engineering. If you don’t build the space shuttle engine right, anything above it is a waste of time and money because if you don’t build the engine right, you’re not getting into space.
At California Science Centre you can see the last flight-qualified External Tank in existence, ET-94. This lightweight tank (LWT) — donated to the Science Center by NASA — was ordered to support science missions for space shuttle Columbia. Because construction of super lightweight external tanks had already begun, ET-94 was referred to as a “deferred-build” tank. After Columbia was destroyed on its return back through the atmosphere following STS-107 in 2003, ET-94 was studied extensively to try to assess whether the “deferred-build” tank contributed to the accident in any way. Many pieces of foam were removed from the tank, which is why the tank will need some restoration before being put on display at the California Science Center.
With the addition of ET-94, the new California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will be the only place in the world that people will be able to go to see a complete shuttle stack—orbiter, external tank, and solid rocket boosters — with all real flight hardware in launch configuration.
The nose cone sat at the very top of the space shuttle assembly, on the nose of the External Tank. Its pointy shape helped the ET slip more easily through the atmosphere on its way to orbit. The nose cone shielded sensors at the ET’s tip and held vents for the liquid oxygen tank — the topmost tank of the ET. When mounted to the ET, the nose cone featured an aluminum spike that served as a lightning rod for the shuttle during the first part of its trip to orbit.
The Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) operate in parallel with the main engines for the first two minutes of flight to provide the additional thrust needed for the orbiter to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth. At an altitude of approximately 45km, the boosters separate from the orbiter/external tank, descend on parachutes, and land in the Atlantic Ocean. They are recovered by ships, returned to land, and refurbished for reuse. The boosters also assist in guiding the entire vehicle during initial ascent.
In addition to the solid rocket motor, the booster contains the structural, thrust vector control, separation, recovery, and electrical and instrumentation subsystems. The solid rocket motor is the largest solid propellant motor ever developed for space flight and the first built to be used on a manned craft. The huge motor is composed of a segmented motor case loaded with solid propellants, an ignition system, a movable nozzle and the necessary instrumentation and integration hardware.
Each solid rocket motor contains more than 450,000 kg of propellant, which requires an extensive mixing and casting operation at a plant in Utah. The solid fuel is actually powdered aluminium – a form similar to the foil wraps in your kitchen! – mixed with oxygen provided by a chemical called ammonium perchlorate. The cross-section of the solid rocket propellant is a star shape that increases the burn surface area for more thrust at launch. The star shaped cross-section was used near the top of the rocket.
The space shuttle can withstand reentry temperatures up to 1260 degrees Celsius. Each shuttle is covered by more than 24,000 of the 15- by 15-cm blocks. Most of the tiles are made of silica fibres, which are produced from high-grade sand. Silica is an excellent insulator because it transports heat slowly. When the outer portion of a tile gets hot, the heat takes a long time to work its way down through the rest of the tile to the shuttle’s skin. The tiles keep the orbiter’s aluminium skin at 176 degrees Celsius or less. Tiles are too brittle to attach to the orbiter directly. The shuttle’s skin contracts slightly while in orbit, then expands during reentry. In addition, the stresses of launch and reentry cause the skin to flex and bend. Such motions could easily crack the tiles or shake them off. To keep them in place, the tiles are glued to flexible felt-like pads, then the pads are glued to the orbiter.
The primary tiles used are given one of two coatings. The tiles exposed to reentry temperatures of up to 1260 degrees Celsius, such as those on portions of the belly, are given a protective coating of black glass. Black tiles work by reflecting about 90 percent of the heat they’re exposed to back into the atmosphere, while the tiles’ interior absorbs the rest. The tiles’ interiors radiate absorbed heat so slowly that after landing, the tiles take hours to cool. On parts of the shuttle’s upper fuselage, which are exposed to much lower temperatures, the tiles are covered with a whitewash of silica compounds and aluminium oxide; these tiles protect against temperatures of up to 650 degrees Celsius.
Invented by aerospace engineer and entrepreneur Robert Citron, SPACEHAB was initially conceived as a way for tourists to travel into space aboard the shuttles. Though NASA didn’t allow SPACEHAB to be used for space tourism, SPACEHAB was the first payload component developed by a private business that humans could occupy in space.
When installed in the orbiter’s payload bay, the SPACEHAB Logistics Module (called the SPACEHAB) serves as a kind of astronauts’ workshop. SPACEHAB gave astronauts extra living space aboard the shuttle, as well as room to do science and store supplies and tools. A tunnel connected the pressurized SPACEHAB to the orbiter’s crew compartment, so astronauts could reach it — and work inside it — without putting on spacesuits. On some missions, two modules were flown together to make a SPACEHAB Logistics Double Module, providing more room for experiments and storage.
SPACEHAB modules flew on the shuttle 18 times, and the first and last SPACEHAB missions were flown on Endeavour. On many missions, NASA stocked SPACEHAB with equipment for delivery to Mir or the International Space Station. SPACEHAB also carried experiments for international space agencies, universities, and corporations, including experiments to test materials for improved contact lenses, develop better medicines to fight diseases, and produce crystals for use in advanced electronics. On Endeavour flight STS-77, SPACEHAB even carried an experiment intended to test the flavor and carbonation of Coca-Cola® in space. On Discovery flight STS-63, SPACEHAB carried Magellan T. Bear 🙂
The Apollo command module on display at the California Science Center was flown by American astronauts Tom Stafford, Deke Slayton and Vance Brand to rendezvous with a Russian Soyuz spacecraft parked in orbit around the Earth. Although built to fly to the moon as Apollo 18, its mission was changed when funding was cut for the Apollo program.
When Apollo and Soyuz docked together, it was the first time that the Soviet Union and United States had come together in orbit, and was the first international human space flight mission. This event was the beginning of a new partnership, turning the competition that had previously characterized the space race into cooperation.
One of the main objectives of this mission was to test rendezvous and docking systems. One obstacle to be overcome was that the atmospheric pressure and gas composition inside the Apollo command module differed from that used inside the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The American spacecraft used a pure oxygen environment at one-third atmospheric pressure (5 psi). The Soyuz used an 80-percent nitrogen 20-percent oxygen environment at a pressure of one full atmosphere (14.7 psi). In order to allow safe transfer between vehicles, the Russian and American engineering teams jointly created a docking module that was inserted between the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft.
Prior to docking with the Apollo command module (that was linked to the docking module) the Russian crew lowered their cabin atmospheric pressure from a full atmosphere to two-thirds atmosphere. After docking with the Soyuz, the American crew transferred from the Apollo spacecraft into the docking module and closed the hatch behind them. They added nitrogen to the pure oxygen environment which raised the pressure inside the docking module from one-third atmosphere to two-thirds atmosphere and resulted in a gaseous composition that matched the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The astronauts could then safely open the hatch between the docking module and the Soyuz.
The original space programs, Gemini and Mercury are also represented.
Gemini 11 took astronauts Dick Gordon and Pete Conrad into space, setting an altitude record of 1,400 kilometers. This Gemini mission gave us the first view of Earth as a sphere, and was also the first American flight to have a computer-controlled reentry.
Project Gemini bridged the gap between the Mercury program, the first project to put an astronaut in space, and the Apollo program, which landed humans on the moon. After two unmanned test flights in 1964, ten manned Gemini missions took place in 1965-66. Each of the manned missions had a two-man crew, which inspired the name of the project. Gemini is the name of the constellation containing twin stars, Castor and Pollux.
The main goals of the Gemini project were developed to match the tasks that might come up on a trip to the moon. The official objectives of the program were:
– To subject man and equipment to space flight up to two weeks in duration;
– To rendezvous and dock with orbiting vehicles and to maneuver the docked combination by using the target vehicle’s propulsion system;
– To perfect methods of entering the atmosphere and landing at a predetermined point on land;
– To gain additional information concerning the effects of weightlessness on crew members and to record the physiological reactions of crew members during long duration flights.
The design for the Gemini capsule grew out of the basic tried and tested design of the Mercury capsules. However, the complexity of the new project called for two astronauts and many technological advances. The Gemini capsule had to hold two astronauts for flights lasting as long as two weeks, compared to the longest Mercury flight of 34 hours and 20 minutes. In addition, the capsule had to offer accessible storage for food and scientific equipment, and had to be maneuverable both in space and during reentry so the capsule could dock with another spacecraft in orbit and land in a specific place. As a result, the Gemini capsule was launched with a service module that carried supplies and some life support. The Gemini capsule also featured thrusters around the nose of the capsule that made it possible for the astronauts to fly around a target.
During the Gemini 11 mission, astronauts Dick Gordon and Pete Conrad spent three days in space, practicing the skills needed for the Apollo moon missions and carrying out the twelve experiments on board. In the first orbit of Gemini 11, the astronauts docked the capsule with the Agena, another orbiting craft. The astronauts used the Agena’s propulsion system and fuel to boost the Gemini capsule into a higher orbit. Later in the flight, the astronauts undocked Gemini from Agena, and then tried to spin the two crafts which were then only connected by a tether line. The spinning experiment was designed to see if the rotation of the crafts could simulate a gravitational force.
Gordon also had two EVAs (Extravehicular Activities) during the mission, once on a 33-minute spacewalk and once standing in an open capsule hatch for about two hours. He used the time outside the capsule to take photos of Earth and the stars.
The flight of this Mercury-Redstone 2 tested the rocket, the capsule and the ability to work in space and return safely, in preparation for the first American astronaut’s journey into space. Mercury-Redstone 2 carried a chimpanzee named Ham and helped to confirm that humans could safely make the trip.
As part of the space race against the Soviet Union, the Project Mercury program (1958-1963) was designed to put an American astronaut into orbit around the Earth and return him safely. The program also tested how well humans could function in the unknown environment of space. But before humans could be sent out, NASA needed to make sure that they could be kept safe from micrometeoroids, radiation, noise, vibration, acceleration forces, microgravity and the vacuum of space. In addition, medical experts were unsure if humans could handle being isolated and confined in a space as small as the inside of the space capsule.
The Mercury-Redstone 2 flight tested the rocket and capsule, as well as the ability to work in space and return safely to Earth. Once the rocket and capsule design features selected for the Mercury missions were performing reliably, a chimpanzee named HAM was chosen from a colony of six “astrochimps” to test the environmental control systems inside the Mercury capsule. Researchers sent chimpanzees into space because chimps’ organ and skeletal structures are similar to ours, and chimps can be trained.
The MR-2 flight showed that HAM could concentrate and work in flight. Through launch, more than six minutes of weightlessness, and reentry, he moved levers in response to flashing lights, just as he had been taught in the laboratory. Ham’s response times in space were as good as on Earth. We’ll gloss right over the training techniques used.
And at least Ham came back to Earth alive. Laika did not.
Sputnik 1 was the first human-made object to orbit the Earth, the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957, shocking the world. Barely a month later, on 3 November 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 2 on a one way trip with Laika, a quiet and charming dog (according to one of the Soviet doctors), on board. Technology hadn’t advanced as far as the return trip.
The success of HAM’s flight paved the way for the first American astronaut, Alan Shepherd, to go into sub-orbital space on May 5th, 1961. Another chimp, Enos, tested the first orbiting Mercury capsule on November 29th, 1961. On February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
After the MR-2 capsule returned from its trip to space, the Navy used it to practice helping a person out of the capsule and retrieving the capsule from the ocean. These practice missions helped the teams prepare for later Mercury missions, many of which were manned by human astronauts.
Uhuru was the first telescope satellite in space that was completely devoted to X-ray astronomy.
The Uhuru actually contained two telescopes pointing in opposite directions, which gave the satellite the ability to scan the entire sky in search of X-ray sources. X-rays are given off by high-energy events in space. Prior to Uhuru’s launch, X-rays had been detected from our sun, and in 1962, an Aerobee rocket that had been launched to measure X-rays from the moon actually found bright X-rays from the stars instead!
Since X-rays can’t make it through the Earth’s atmosphere, Uhuru gave us the first look at several events in space that couldn’t be seen from Earth. For example, Uhuru delivered early hints that black holes exist, and also mapped X-ray sources such as binary star systems, remnants of supernovas, and galaxies. Uhuru also revealed X-ray pulsars and discovered diffuse X-ray emissions coming from galaxy clusters, which suggested that hot gas may be found between galaxies. Uhuru, which means “freedom” in Swahili, was launched from Kenya on December 12, 1970 — the 7th anniversary of Kenya’s independence — and stayed in service for three years.
The Chandra Space Telescope, an X-ray observatory, was the third in NASA’s collection of “Great Observatories” orbiting Earth. The Great Observatories were designed to send back detailed information about space.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory is currently in orbit around Earth, peering out into the universe in search of extremely high-temperature events in space. These events give off X-rays, which are a highly energized form of light that cannot be seen by human eyes. X-rays can’t make it through the Earth’s atmosphere, so for astronomers to study them, X-ray telescopes like the Chandra must be based in space. The Chandra collects X-rays, some from as far as ten billion light years away, and uses a high resolution camera (HRC) to interpret them into images. The Chandra also contains scientific instruments that can measure the strength and temperature of X-rays.
Because X-rays would be absorbed right into the dish-shaped mirrors typically used in telescopes that measure visible light, the Chandra contains barrel-shaped mirrors with reflecting surfaces that run almost parallel to the X-rays. The X-rays barely bounce off the mirrors and are focused onto a point about half the width of a human hair, where they are recorded and measured.
X-ray telescopes are important because they allow us to see events in space that would normally be invisible to us. High-energy events such as huge explosions, black holes and neutron stars can be seen in much greater detail with an X-ray telescope, and X-ray telescope images can add an extra dimension to objects in space that also give off visible light.
The Chandra, which is named after Nobel prize winner Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, orbits up to 200 times higher above Earth than the Hubble — about a third of the distance to the moon!
The Hubble Space Telescope is the best optical telescope currently in orbit around Earth. The Hubble was also the first scientific project in space that was designed to be serviced and upgraded on a regular basis by astronauts.
The Hubble is in orbit right now, making history by sending back around 10 to 15 gigabytes of images and data to astronomers every day. So far, the Hubble has examined over 25,000 features in space, including distant galaxies, black holes and nebulas where stars are born. The images sent back from the Hubble are beautifully amazing and give us a peek deep into the universe. But even more importantly, each new observation has the potential to support or contradict popular astronomical theories.
When the Hubble was launched, it had a slight defect in one of its mirrors, which meant that the first images sent back from the telescope were more blurry than expected. But since the Hubble was designed to be upgraded and serviced by astronauts, the first servicing mission, which took place in 1993 on space shuttle Endeavour, added some corrective lenses as well as a more powerful camera. Then the Hubble could send back views of the stars that were better than any ever seen from Earth — primarily because it was outside the Earth’s atmosphere, which distorts our view of space. (The atmosphere is what makes stars twinkle.)
One of the most amazing areas of research undertaken by Hubble scientists has been the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HDF) project. Because the HDF project examines objects billions of light years away, the light the Hubble captures is from events that happened billions of years ago. So when the Hubble captures images from far away into the deep universe, it’s also like looking back in time. Studies of the HDF images have uncovered many surprising new discoveries, such as the occurrence of a “stellar baby boom” shortly after the Big Bang which peaked around three billion years later. Most of the stars that exist today were born during this stellar population explosion. The HDF research has also supported the theory that the universe looks the same in all directions.
In addition to the things we have learned from the Hubble about the nature of deep space and the history and development of the universe, we have also found out more about our own cosmic neighborhood. The Hubble data revealed the existence of oxygen on Europa. Plus, the Hubble relayed photos of a volcanic eruption from Io, spotted storms on Neptune, Jupiter and Mars, captured images of Saturn and Jupiter’s auroras and even gave a weather report for the Pathfinder landing on Mars. Outside our galaxy, the Hubble data confirmed the existence of black holes and sent back data on the phenomena of star death, quasars and more. Images from the Hubble have also revealed that flat disks of dust and gases, thought to be possible precursors to planet formation, encircle many developing stars.
It’s all gone!
It was yummy! And you were busy 🙂
I better make some more…