Notes on the Space Shuttle

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I have a sincere interest in space travel, so when I found this t-shirt at Brimfield I got pretty excited: paper thin, well worn, slight pit stains, and an awesome graphic and sentence.

The copyright label dates it to 1981, but I want to share some additional knowledge for the next time you find a garment with a large picture of the space shuttle on it.

You can date the shirt can be dated by the color of its external fuel tank: For the first two shuttle missions, the tank was painted white. After that, though, the tank was left its familiar unpainted orange. STS-2 launched in 1981, so any orange tank shuttles are from 1982 or later. So as the one shown here is white, we can reasonably guess the shirt is from 1981.

And if you really want to impress your friends, give them a hard time any time they refer to the orbiter as the shuttle. The shuttle refers to combined system of orbiter, external fuel tank, and solid rocket boosters. The little airplane thingy you see in photos floating around the Earth is the orbiter and the orbiter only. Best to find out the orbiter’s name (Challenger, Endeavour, Columbia, Discovery, or Atlantis) and refer to it as such.

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