A Close-Up Look at NASA’s Space Shuttle

space-shuttle-documentary picture source: WikiImagesEvery Thursday, I will post a new English Youtube documentary on my blog. Watching documentaries in English is a great way to improve your listening skills and to improve your English vocabulary.
This week’s documentary is for anyone who is interested in engineering.

Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by the space shuttle, so I thought a close-up look at one of the most complex machines ever built would be a fitting start 🙂

Also, to make it a bit easier for you, I’ve included a short summary at the bottom of this post.

Let me know what kind of documentaries you would like to see featured here in the future 🙂
Just leave me a comment below with your suggested topic(s).

Documentary summary:

Richard Hammond (he’s one of the presenters of Top Gear, a British TV show about cars) looks at the space shuttle, one of the most complex and expensive machines ever built. What does the world’s first reusable spaceship have in common with a German submarine, a church organ, tram tracks, a camera lens and a cannon ball? Watch the documentary and find out 🙂

Useful vocabulary to watch the documentary:

  • an incredible feat: (here) a remarkable achievement
  • fleet: a group of ships / vehicles that move or work together or that are controlled or owned by the same company
  • jack of all trades (master of none): to be very versatile and able to do many different things, without being an expert in any
  • to launch: to set in motion, to start something
  • launch pad: the area where a rocket is launched
  • orbiter: a vehicle that is able to fly into space and travel around the earth or the moon etc.
  • to jettison: to throw or drop something from an aircraft or ship
  • to propel sth: to drive or push something forwards
  • to overhaul: (here) to take apart the machine to examine and repair it, so that it’s fully functioning again afterwards.
  • no ordinary grease monkey: a grease monkey is a mechanic. Here it means a very special mechanic.
  • to refurbish: to renovate and redecorate
  • to vaporize: to convert into vapour
  • coolant: Something (usually a liquid or gas) that is used to remove heat from something.
  • the staggering power: the astonishing power
  • ratio: a relationship which shows how many times one thing is bigger than another.
  • to weld: to heat two pieces of metal so that they melt around the edges. When joined together, they will harden into one piece once they’ve cooled down.
  • challenge: something new and exciting that requires a lot of effort to achieve
  • to have a head start: (here) to be given an advantage at the start of a race, to be quicker in the beginning.
  • fatal: deadly
  • a pulse of air: a single vibration or short burst of air.
  • to absorb sth: to take in or soak up (energy or a liquid or other substance) by chemical or physical action.
  • to hurtle through sth: to move / travel through something in an uncontrolled way at a very high speed.
  • rain bird: a brand of water sprinklers
  • to unleash: (here) cause a strong or violent force to be released or become unrestrained.
  • to make something up: to invent a story / lie
  • to be cross: to be annoyed
  • to manoeuvre / maneuver: to move skilfully or carefully
  • friction: (here) the force which stops things from moving freely when they rub against each other.
  • streamlined: if something is streamlined, it is designed in a way that presents very little resistance to a flow of air or water, therefore increasing speed and ease of movement.

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