The three main space shuttle engines along with the solid rocket boosts give the orbiter the much-needed thrust to get it off the ground for the first ascent, these calls for complex spaceship design . The main engines will continue to operate for about eight and a half minutes after launching, which is the duration of the shuttles powerful flight.
Once the solid rockets are discarded, the major engines them give thrust which increases the shuttle speed from about 4,828 km per hour, or 3,000 miles per hour to over 27,358 kilometers per hour, or 17,000 miles per hour in as few as six minutes to get to the orbit. This essentially creates a combined ceiling of over 1.2 million pounds worth of power.
As the shuttle continues to accelerate, the major engines burn about 500,000 gallons of the liquid propellant, which the external orange fuel tank provides. The main engines usually burn hydrogen in liquid form, and which is the second coldest liquid on planet earth at minus 252.8 degrees Celsius or minus 423 degree Fahrenheit, as well as oxygen.
The engines’ exhaust is mainly water vapor, which you get as the oxygen and hydrogen combined. As the two push the shuttle towards orbit, then the engines use fuel in liquid form at a very high rate, typically one that can drain a family swimming pool in less than 25 seconds and generating more than 37 million worth of horsepower. The turbines consequently spin almost 13 times as fast as a car engine spins when running on the highway at an average speed.
After this, the main engines are thrust by using propellants that use high energy in a well-staged combustion cycle. These propellants are partly combusted in the dual perburners to produce very high pressure and hot gasses to drive forward the turbopumps. Combustions completes in the main incineration chamber, with the temperatures in the main engine combustion cavity reaching highs of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 3,325.6 degrees Celsius.
Each of the space shuttles main engines operates using liquid hydrogen and oxygen mixed in rations of 1 to 6 to give a sea level thrust amounting 375,000 pounds or 179,097 kgs and a thrust of 470,000 pounds or 213,188 kgs. The engines then are throttled over a thrust range of 65% to 109% providing a high-level thrust during lift off and initial ascent. Typically, the engines are gimbaled to give pitch roll control and yaw in the ascent.