Stuff that Weighs More than Me: Space Shuttle Endeavor on top of an Airplane

Yesterday, many of us in the LA area watched in awe as the Endeavor Space Shuttle, nestled on top of its Shuttle Carrier Aircraft flew all around over our heads. I got to see it as it crossed Highway 134 on its way to JPL. Traffic was backed up for miles with drivers craning their necks to see the flying behemoth. (This redefines Southland rubbernecking, by the way.) Be told, this thing is BIG. I was thrilled to see it–first and foremostbecause I love space stuff, but also because I thought, “Cor, that thing probably weighs more than me!”

And indeed it does! Let’s look at the stats:

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft:
Model: 747-100 (modified)
Wingspan: 195 ft. 8 in.
Length: 231 ft. 10 in.
Height: Top of vertical stabilizer, 63 ft. 5 in. To top of cockpit area, 32 ft. 1 in.
Vertical tip fins on horizontal stabilizers: 20 ft. 10 in. high, 9 ft. 7 in. long.
Airspeed limits with, and without an orbiter: 250 knots or Mach 0.6
Weight: Basic weight, NASA 905: 318,053 lbs.

Endeavor Space Shuttle Orbiter:
Length: 122.17 ft (37.24 m)
Wingspan: 78.06 ft (23.79 m)
Height: 58.58 ft (17.25 m)
Main Engines: Three Rocketdyne Block two-A SSMEs, each with a sea-level thrust of 393,800 pounds-force (1.75 meganewtons)
Maximum Payload: 55,250 pounds (25,060 kg)
Payload Bay dimensions: 15 ft by 60 ft (4.6 m by 18.3 m)
Empty Weight: 151,205 lb (68,585 kg)

So even if we’re assuming that the plane had already used most of its 47,210 gallons of jet fuel and that the orbiter was empty, we’re still looking at a whopping combined weight of
OVER 500,000 lbs.

CONCLUSION: Space Shuttle Endeavor on a Plane Weighs More than Me

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