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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - After landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center aboard a Grumman G2 aircraft, the STS-121 crew gathers at a microphone for the media.  Seen here at center is Pilot Mark Kelly.  Other crew members are Mission Commander Steven Lindsey and Mission Specialists Michael Fossum, Lisa Nowak, Stephanie Wilson, Piers Sellers and Thomas Reiter, who represents the European Space Agency.  The crew is at the space center to take part in a Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. Over several days, the crew will practice emergency egress from the pad and suit up in their orange flight suits for the simulated countdown to launch. Space Shuttle Discovery is designated to launch July 1 on mission STS-121.  It will carry supplies to the International Space Station.  Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-06pd1042

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - After landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center aboard a Grumman G2 aircraft, the STS-121 crew gathers at a microphone for the media. Seen here at center is Pilot Mark Kelly. Other crew members are Mission Commander Steven Lindsey and Mission Specialists Michael Fossum, Lisa Nowak, Stephanie Wilson, Piers Sellers and Thomas Reiter, who represents the European Space Agency. The crew is at the space center to take part in a Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. Over several days, the crew will practice emergency egress from the pad and suit up in their orange flight suits for the simulated countdown to launch. Space Shuttle Discovery is designated to launch July 1 on mission STS-121. It will carry supplies to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-06pd1042

 
 
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - After landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center aboard a Grumman G2 aircraft, the STS-121 crew gathers at a microphone for the media. Seen here at center is Pilot Mark Kelly. Other crew members are Mission Commander Steven Lindsey and Mission Specialists Michael Fossum, Lisa Nowak, Stephanie Wilson, Piers Sellers and Thomas Reiter, who represents the European Space Agency. The crew is at the space center to take part in a Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. Over several days, the crew will practice emergency egress from the pad and suit up in their orange flight suits for the simulated countdown to launch. Space Shuttle Discovery is designated to launch July 1 on mission STS-121. It will carry supplies to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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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13/06/2006
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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