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orbiter click to hear : orbiter

The only part of the shuttle to fly in orbit; can transport close to 12 metric tons of material and five to seven astronauts.
orbiter image
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See orbiter in : french | spanish
side hatch heat shield attitude control thrusters surface insulation flight deck cargo bay remote manipulator system radiator panel cargo bay door hatch spacelab wing elevon body flap tank main engine maneuvering engine rudder scientific instruments scientific air lock communication tunnel observation window tile

side hatch click to hear : side hatch

Door allowing the crew to embark and disembark before the launch and after the return to Earth.

heat shield click to hear : heat shield

Protects the orbiter nose from heat caused by friction when the vehicle enters the atmosphere; covered with carbon fiber, it can withstand temperatures over 1,600°C.

attitude control thrusters click to hear : attitude control thrusters

Small rocket engines that direct the orbiter to the desired position.

surface insulation click to hear : surface insulation

Protects against heat so that the orbiter does not burn up on re-entry into the atmosphere.

flight deck click to hear : flight deck

Forward section of the orbiter housing the crew, flight-control equipment and monitor.

cargo bay click to hear : cargo bay

Shuttle compartment that stores various types of cargo, depending on the mission (satellite, probe, laboratory, telescope).

remote manipulator system click to hear : remote manipulator system

Mechanical arm used to handle and move shuttle cargo.

radiator panel click to hear : radiator panel

Discharges into space the heat produced by the functioning of onboard equipment.

cargo bay door click to hear : cargo bay door

Remains open in orbit so as to expose the content of the cargo bay to space.

hatch click to hear : hatch

Opening that provides access to the communications tunnel.

spacelab click to hear : spacelab

Area where scientific experiments on weightlessness are carried out.

wing click to hear : wing

Horizontal surface acted on by aerodynamic forces that keep the orbiter aloft in the atmosphere.

elevon click to hear : elevon

Each of the two ailerons controls pitching during landing.

body flap click to hear : body flap

Part serving as a thermal shield for the motors during re-entry into the atmosphere.

tank click to hear : tank

Contains fuel for the maneuvering engines and the directional control thrusters.

main engine click to hear : main engine

Each of the orbiter’s three tail engines used during takeoff; these only function for the first 8 min. of flight.

maneuvering engine click to hear : maneuvering engine

Used to place the vehicle in orbit, to provide thrust in case the orbit changes and to take the vehicle out of orbit.

rudder click to hear : rudder

Mobile vertical part that allows the orbiter to set its direction when landing.

scientific instruments click to hear : scientific instruments

Varying for each mission, they make it possible, for example, to study meteorological conditions, pollution and cosmic radiation.

scientific air lock click to hear : scientific air lock

Door making it possible to expose equipment to the space vacuum.

communication tunnel click to hear : communication tunnel

Corridor that allows the astronauts to go from the orbiter crew compartment to the laboratory.

observation window click to hear : observation window

Window that makes it possible to see outside the orbiter.

tile click to hear : tile

Covering 70% of the orbiter, the tiles protect it from heat on re-entry into the atmosphere.