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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the Thermal Protection System Facility, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe looks at a Dome Heat Shield blanket that is used for Shuttle engines. O'Keefe is visiting the site to learn more about the TPS products and process in protecting orbiters from the intense heat of launch and re-entry.  TPS tiles have been discussed in the investigation into the Columbia tragedy that destroyed the orbiter and claimed the lives of seven astronauts. KSC-03pd0326

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the Thermal Protection System Facility, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe looks at a Dome Heat Shield blanket that is used for Shuttle engines. O'Keefe is visiting the site to learn more about the TPS products and process in protecting orbiters from the intense heat of launch and re-entry. TPS tiles have been discussed in the investigation into the Columbia tragedy that destroyed the orbiter and claimed the lives of seven astronauts. KSC-03pd0326

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the Thermal Protection System Facility, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe looks at a Dome Heat Shield blanket that is used for Shuttle engines. O'Keefe is visiting the site to learn more about the TPS products and process in protecting orbiters from the intense heat of launch and re-entry. TPS tiles have been discussed in the investigation into the Columbia tragedy that destroyed the orbiter and claimed the lives of seven astronauts.

The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.

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07/02/2003
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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Flowers and homemade signs are placed at the front gate of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield (MFA), Mountain View, California (CA) in a spontaneous memorial for the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) astronauts. The Shuttle disintegrated on re-entry killing all onboard

The Re-entry stage of the MGM-118A Peacekeeper weapons system undergoes testing in an Anechoic Chamber

An MX Pathfinder missile re-entry vehicle is transported from the payload assembly building to the integrated test facility

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The USS Anchorage is docked at Naval Base San Diego during loading operations in its well deck for Orion Underway Recovery Test 3. The ship will head out to sea, off the coast of San Diego, in search of conditions to support test needs for a full dress rehearsal of recovery operations. NASA, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Navy personnel will conduct tests in the Pacific Ocean to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission. The test will allow the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, new hardware and personnel in open waters. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is conducting the underway recovery tests. Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted test flight of Orion is scheduled to launch in 2014 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and in 2018 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston KSC-2014-3932

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Visitors tour the well deck of the USS Anchorage and view the Orion boilerplate test vehicle secured in its recovery cradle during the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Expo for L.A. Navy Days at the Port of Los Angeles in California. Near the front of the well deck, at left, is a mockup of NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft. NASA, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy completed Underway Recovery Test 2 on the Orion test vehicle in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission. The underway recovery test allowed the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, new hardware and personnel in open waters. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program conducted the underway recovery test. Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted test flight of the Orion is scheduled to launch in 2014 on Exploration Flight Test-1, or EFT-1, atop a Delta IV rocket and in 2017 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: Kim Shiflett KSC-2014-3389

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- Mission STS-117 Commander Rick Sturckow (left) and Pilot Lee Archambault, dressed in their launch suits, arrive at the Shuttle Landing Facility to begin practice flights on the shuttle training aircraft (STA) during Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) activities. The STA is a Grumman American Aviation-built Gulf Stream II jet that was modified to simulate an orbiter's cockpit, motion and visual cues, and handling qualities. In flight, the STA duplicates the orbiter's atmospheric descent trajectory from approximately 35,000 feet altitude to landing on a runway. Because the orbiter is unpowered during re-entry and landing, its high-speed glide must be perfectly executed the first time. The mission payload aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis is the S3/S4 integrated truss structure, along with a third set of solar arrays and batteries. The crew of six astronauts will install the truss to continue assembly of the International Space Station. STS-117 is the 118th space shuttle flight and the 21st flight to the station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-07pd0500

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- After the first practice orbiter landing, STS-116 Pilot William Oefelein heads the shuttle training aircraft (STA) back into the night sky to do it again. The STA is a Grumman American Aviation-built Gulf Stream II jet that was modified to simulate an orbiter's cockpit, motion and visual cues, and handling qualities. In flight, the STA duplicates the orbiter's atmospheric descent trajectory from approximately 35,000 feet altitude to landing on a runway. Because the orbiter is unpowered during re-entry and landing, its high-speed glide must be perfectly executed the first time. Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-116 is scheduled for 9:35 p.m. Dec. 7. On the mission, the STS-116 crew will deliver truss segment, P5, to the International Space Station and begin the intricate process of reconfiguring and redistributing the power generated by two pairs of U.S. solar arrays. The P5 will be mated to the P4 truss that was delivered and attached during the STS-115 mission in September. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-06pd2663

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, workers prepare to move the Orion ground test vehicle, or GTA, from the Operations and Checkout Building to the Launch Equipment Test Facility, or LETF. At the LETF, Lockheed Martin will put the GTA through a series of pyrotechnic bolt tests. The ground test vehicle is being used for path finding operations in the O&C, including simulated manufacturing and assembly procedures. Launching atop NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System SLS, which also is under development, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle MPCV will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry astronaut crews beyond low Earth orbit. It also will provide emergency abort capabilities, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: Jim Grossman KSC-2013-2340

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