Thursday, August 9, 2007

Shuttle teacher aloft

McCall Idaho educator Barbara Morgan finally made it into space 22 years after being the backup to Christa McAuliffe. She’ll spend up to two weeks making repairs to the Space Station on the 119th Space Shuttle flight and the 20th flight for the Endeavour.

The numbers behind a shuttle launch are astounding.

It takes nearly 17,000 people to make the shuttle fly. And when it does it takes just eight and half minutes to reach its orbital speed of 17,300 miles per hour, despite weighing four and a half million pounds at takeoff. And when it lands, it weighs less than 230,000 lbs.

We all know about the danger of falling debris during the first few minutes of flight. But before the launch engineers found another danger and designed a sound suppression system – or SPS – that dumps 300,000 gallons of water on the launcher platform and solid rocket boosters to keep acoustical energy from damaging the shuttle wings and control surfaces. That’s quite a pre-flight bath!

On this flight Barbara Morgan is taking 10 million basil seeds to distribute to students and educators.

And you can be sure that after her trip, when she finally returns to teaching, Barbara Morgan’s students will never go wanting – or hungry – at story time.

No comments: