Varies, as the shuttle accelerates while the amount of fuel being burned every second also changes. During lift-off, each solid rocket booster alone burns about 10 tons of fuel per second, with the fuel having a density of 2.34 g/cm³. Each ton of fuel is thus 1000/2340 = 0.4273504 cubic meters or 112.89404 US liquid gallons. Lets just look at the two SRBs alone, and ignore the three SSMEs, because the SSMEs use about 20 times less fuel per second, and are thus only disturbing the calculations slightly:
20 ton/s = 2258 gallons/second.
One gallon needs 1/2258 seconds to be burned: 0.0004429 seconds
The shuttle accelerates at 0.45 g or about 4 m/s (after subtracting gravity) on lift-off. It thus travels in the first 0.0004429 seconds only
0.0003923 mm or 0.0000154 inches. 0.0000154 inches per gallon.
On the average, the Shuttle travels about 145 miles (122 NM downrange, 25 NM altitude) until SRB separation and uses 1000 tons of SRB fuel. It is thus 778.57959 miles per gallon until SRB separation, if only calculating the SRBs - this value will be slightly higher if you include the fuel used by the three SSMEs (about 3% if you calculate in gallons, exact value depends on launch conditions).
Skechers: "The answer is 19.130754 miles per gallon"
That is wrong. I calculated exactly that number some while back in Y!Answers, but it was the average MPG for a maximum length mission of the space shuttle - the most favorable value, calculated from total fuel mass divided by distance traveled.
· 1 decade ago