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A Space Shuttle Booster Engine That Was Designed to the Width of Horse Buttocks

Updated on February 26, 2013


Engineers of NASA wanted to make the booster rocket of a space shuttle bigger, but they couldn’t make it bigger than 4ft 8.5in, all because of the SIZE OF HORSE BUTTOCKS. Let’s see why.

From Horse Buttocks to Space Shuttle Booster Rocket

August 8, 2007: The space shuttle Endeavor was launched. The booster rocket for the space shuttle had to be transferred from the factory in Utah to NASA Space Center in Florida. The booster had to be transferred in a train and had to fit through numerous tunnels, so it was engineered to the width of the train tracks.

Mid-19th century America: There existed train tracks with different width in different areas of the country. When the North won the Civil War, all train tracks were standardized to the standard track width of England, which was the standard track width of the North. The width of train tracks: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m). This is the standard track gauge for 60% of all train tracks around the world.

Early 19th century England: The width for horse carriage tracks used coal transportation was used to make railroad tracks for steam trains. The width of horse carriage tracks: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m).

2,000 years ago: The Roman army built roads in England that lead to Rome. The roads were built to the width of Roman chariots. The width of Roman chariots: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m).

Ancient Rome: A two-horse chariot was invented. The width of a chariot was designed to fit the buttocks of two horses. The width of two horse buttocks: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m).


  1. From the width of two horses’ buttocks: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m)
  2. To the width of the Roman chariot: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m)
  3. To the width of the carriage tracks: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m)
  4. To the width of the railroad tracks: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m)
  5. To the width of the booster engine for space shuttles: 4ft 8.5in (1.435 m)

Therefore, space shuttles’ booster engine was engineered to the width of two horses’ buttocks. A smart way to say this: This is a result of path dependence.

Path dependence: The dependence of current outcomes on the path of previous outcomes, rather than simply on current conditions.

Another Example of Path Dependence

1867: The first manual typewriter was invented. If typed too fast on this keyboard, the fingers would tangle.

65 years later: A new keyboard was introduced, which reduced the movement of fingers by 65%. But because of the people who were familiar with the old keyboard, the inefficient old keyboard (QWERTY) is still being used till this day.

“Once a standard is built, it is hard to build a new one even though the old standard is proven inefficient or inferior.” – Paul David, A scholar on economic history

We often make decisions based on ways decided in the past without questioning them.

Manner: a way of doing, being done, or happening; mode of action, occurrence, etc.

Mannerism: a habitual or characteristic manner, mode, or way of doing something; distinctive quality or style, as in behavior or speech

“It’s always like that! You don’t have to change it!” What people who don’t like change say." – Rolf W. Brednich, A cultural anthropologist


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