Space

How are rockets launched into space?

Launching a rocket takes years of planning, and the most
important element is the launch pad and its attendant facilities.
The launch pad cradles, fuels and powers the rocket, before it
is unleashed. In the case of NASA’s Space Shuttle, its rocket motors
produced 3.2 million kilograms (7 million pounds) of thrust at
launch. The corrosive exhaust and intense flames from the engines
were channelled through a horizontal V-shaped flame trench, which
consisted of two 453,600-kilogram (1 million-pound) deflectors made
from steel coated with 12.7 centimetres (five inches) of heat-resistant
Fondu Fyre concrete, which flakes off to disperse the intense heat.
The Space Shuttle was assembled on a moving launch platform
(MLP) at the nearby vehicle assembly building (VAB) and taken to the
launch pad on top of a crawler transporter. At the pad, a fixed service
structure (FSS) has a lift to gain access to any level of the rocket.
Anchored to it is the rotating service structure (RSS) that comprises a
clean room used to load the rocket’s cargo.
It took at least a month for 170 technicians and specialists to
prepare, check and launch the Space Shuttle, though for less
complex, unmanned rockets the timescale is a matter of days. During
the countdown, all links between the FSS and the rocket were
systematically released, and lastly at blast-off explosive bolts free
the shuttle from the MLP. To protect the delicate components of the
vehicle and the pad itself, the MLP is flooded with water at a rate of 3.4
million litres (900,000 gallons) per minute to suppress the damaging
sound waves and heat produced by the engines.

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