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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -   The STS-115 crew practices exiting from the slidewire basket, used during emergency egress from the launch pad. Sitting in the basket are Pilot Chris Ferguson and  Mission Specialist Steven MacLean, who is with the Canadian Space Agency. On the left is Mission Specialist Daniel Burbank.  The mission crew is at KSC for Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) activities that are preparation for launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis, scheduled to take place in a window that opens Aug. 27.  During their 11-day mission to the International Space Station, the STS-115 crew will continue construction of the station and attach the payload elements, the Port 3/4 truss segment with its two large solar arrays.  Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston KSC-06pd1787

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - The STS-115 crew practices exiting from the slidewire basket, used during emergency egress from the launch pad. Sitting in the basket are Pilot Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialist Steven MacLean, who is with the Canadian Space Agency. On the left is Mission Specialist Daniel Burbank. The mission crew is at KSC for Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) activities that are preparation for launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis, scheduled to take place in a window that opens Aug. 27. During their 11-day mission to the International Space Station, the STS-115 crew will continue construction of the station and attach the payload elements, the Port 3/4 truss segment with its two large solar arrays. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston KSC-06pd1787

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - The STS-115 crew practices exiting from the slidewire basket, used during emergency egress from the launch pad. Sitting in the basket are Pilot Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialist Steven MacLean, who is with the Canadian Space Agency. On the left is Mission Specialist Daniel Burbank. The mission crew is at KSC for Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) activities that are preparation for launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis, scheduled to take place in a window that opens Aug. 27. During their 11-day mission to the International Space Station, the STS-115 crew will continue construction of the station and attach the payload elements, the Port 3/4 truss segment with its two large solar arrays. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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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09/08/2006
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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