## Shuttle Unplugged: Endeavour Powered-Up for Last Time

• Share
• Email
Enlarge Ken Kremer MORE IMAGES

For 19 years, space shuttle Endeavour traveled more than 196 million kilometers and tallied 299 days in space in 25 missions. Now the decommissioned shuttle sits at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, awaiting its final journey to a science center in Los Angeles on the back of a specially adapted Boeing 747 later this year.

On Monday, May 7, all power into Endeavour’s cockpit will be cut off forever. "And it's the last shuttle that will ever get turned on," says science journalist Ken Kremer, who visited the powered-up shuttle on Thursday and snapped a photo of the flight deck (the commander's seat is on the left, the pilot's on the right). "It was like being on the bridge of the starship Enterprise," Kremer says. "Those blue screens are real and they were moving. The gauges were active. The only thing better is being in orbit." But it will probably be almost a decade before the next generation of NASA-built spacecraft carries anyone into space.

—Sarah Fecht

X

View
1. 1. jbairddo 10:05 AM 5/5/12

Wow, if you can figure out the shuttle flew 196 million clicks, when will someone figure out its equivalent MPG's. And don't forgot like buses, there are 7 people, so do the miles per passenger calc. as well.

2. 2. kebil in reply to jbairddo 04:51 PM 5/5/12

You have to remember most of that time and distance was in orbit, which, once you are there, does not require any fuel at all. Just imagine the MPG for the moon, with all that mass, and zero gallons of petroleum consumed. However, no work done either.

3. 3. LarryW in reply to kebil 05:17 PM 5/5/12

Yes and no. Remember W = F*d, work = force times distance. The force is earth's gravity, however since the force of gravity is perpendicular to the motion of the Shuttle in orbit, W = 0.

However, in going to the moon, there would be work because of the need to escape from earth's gravity, and the moon's force of gravity would be parallel to the spacecraft's direction of motion.

4. 4. alan6302 05:38 PM 5/5/12

NASA will be terminated within a year....I believe

5. 5. priddseren 02:42 PM 5/6/12

The shuttles are definitely something to see but are also old technology so it is a good thing they are have been retired.

It is too bad the politicians are spending trillion in waste lining their own pockets and the pockets of their various special interest groups or whomever and NOT allocating some of that money to the build of a new spacecraft. The shame is on them for handing over space leadership to the Chinese, europeans and the rest of the world. They should have allocated the few billion out of the 4 trillion they take to ensure the shuttle replacement was ready to go within months of retiring the last shuttle.

6. 6. Bear_the_Schnauzer 02:13 AM 5/7/12

We can estimate this easy if we are not looking for perfection. Each solid rocket contains 1.1 million lbs of fuel (2.2 million total), the LOX tank, 1.4 million lbs, and the hydrogen tank 0.2 ,million lbs for a total of 3.8 million lbs per mission. There was 25 Endeavor missions for a total of 98 million lbs for all missions.

Converting 196 million kilometers to miles (1.852 kilometers per mile) yields 105.8 million miles traveled.

105.8 millions miles / 98 million lbs of fuel = 1.11 mile per lbs of fuel.

Gasoline weighs 6.07 lbs per gallon. So 1.11 mile per lbs * 6.07 lbs per gallon yields 6.7 MILES PER GALLON.

Of course converting solid fuel, LOX, and H2 into lbs and then converting the lbs into equivalent gasoline isn't correct but with everything in science back-of-the-envelop answers are still valuable even if not precise or correct.

7. 7. Bear_the_Schnauzer in reply to LarryW 02:22 AM 5/7/12

You have to start the mission from the ground vice a space based outpost. From the ground we have zero potential energy and zero kinetic. If get the moon we need to increase both by a very large amount - i.e. perform large amounts of work. We never really escape from the Earth gravity....at some point in the journey to the moon the influence for it's gravity becomes stronger than the Earths and pulls the ship to it.

So for all this work we did to gain potential energy and speed we throw it all away in heat and drag on reentry.

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Click one of the buttons below to register using an existing Social Account.

## More from Scientific American

• @ScientificAmerican | 11 hours ago

### Can We Harness Disruption to Improve Our World's Future?

• News | 12 hours ago

### Federal Flood Maps Left New York Unprepared for Sandy, and FEMA Knew It

• News | 14 hours ago

### Smart Wig Could Compete with Google Glass

• News | 14 hours ago | 1

### Will to Persevere Can Be Triggered by Electric Stimulation

• Climatewire | 16 hours ago | 6

More »

## Latest from SA Blog Network

• ### Wonderful Things: The Pugnacious, Alien-esque Skeleton Shrimp

The Artful Amoeba | 9 hours ago
• ### Can We Harness Disruption to Improve Our World's Future?

STAFF
@ScientificAmerican | 11 hours ago
• ### British Storm Brings Up History's First Work of Social Media

Plugged In | 12 hours ago
• ### Rolling on Wheels That Aren t Round

Observations | 12 hours ago
• ### The future of nuclear energy: Let a thousand flowers bloom

The Curious Wavefunction | 12 hours ago

X

Give a 1 year subscription as low as \$14.99

X

X

###### Welcome, . Do you have an existing ScientificAmerican.com account?

No, I would like to create a new account with my profile information.

X

Are you sure?

X