Source: Discovery Launch Captured by Multiple Cameras, NASA, YouTube; edited
A more clickbaity but accurate description of my question would be:
- How did the Space Shuttle / External Tank not shear off?
The view above always fascinated me. Note how once the ET is jettisoned, where it connects is revealed, and it is a small connector.
During lift-off I always thought of the SRBs carrying the ET, and the Shuttle carrying itself, but once the SRBs are jettisoned, and the acceleration is coming only from the Shuttle (thrust-line is now parallel more or less to the ET's vertical axis), I can only wonder how is that small connector possible; how is it designed to withstand such a shear force, yet remain with minimal footprint on the Shuttle underside / heat shield?