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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. --   In the Space Station Processing Facility, STS-122 crew members pause for a photo in front of the Columbus European Laboratory, part of the payload on their mission. From left are Pilot Alan Poindexter, Mission Specialists Hans Schlegel, Rex Walheim and Stan Love, and Commander Steve Frick. Schlegel represents the European Space Agency.  The crew is participating in a crew equipment interface test that provides opportunities for hands-on experience with payloads and equipment. The 24th mission to the International Space Station, STS-122 will also include the Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure - Non-Deployable (MPESS-ND). Launch of STS-122 on Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled no earlier than October. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-07pd0060

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the Space Station Processing Facility, STS-122 crew members pause for a photo in front of the Columbus European Laboratory, part of the payload on their mission. From left are Pilot Alan Poindexter, Mission Specialists Hans Schlegel, Rex Walheim and Stan Love, and Commander Steve Frick. Schlegel represents the European Space Agency. The crew is participating in a crew equipment interface test that provides opportunities for hands-on experience with payloads and equipment. The 24th mission to the International Space Station, STS-122 will also include the Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure - Non-Deployable (MPESS-ND). Launch of STS-122 on Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled no earlier than October. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-07pd0060

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the Space Station Processing Facility, STS-122 crew members pause for a photo in front of the Columbus European Laboratory, part of the payload on their mission. From left are Pilot Alan Poindexter, Mission Specialists Hans Schlegel, Rex Walheim and Stan Love, and Commander Steve Frick. Schlegel represents the European Space Agency. The crew is participating in a crew equipment interface test that provides opportunities for hands-on experience with payloads and equipment. The 24th mission to the International Space Station, STS-122 will also include the Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure - Non-Deployable (MPESS-ND). Launch of STS-122 on Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled no earlier than October. 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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11/01/2007
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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