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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. --    In the foreground, astronauts Tim Kopra, Michael Fincke, Soichi Noguchi, and Salizhan Sharipov (arms foldled) peer up at the Node 2 module in the Space Station Processing Facility.  They and other astronauts are familiarizing themselves with the various elements to be installed on the International Space Station on future spaceflights.  With construction of the Space Station the primary focus of future shuttle missions, astronaut crews will be working with one or more of the elements and hardware already being processed in the SSPF.  Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-07pd0266

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the foreground, astronauts Tim Kopra, Michael Fincke, Soichi Noguchi, and Salizhan Sharipov (arms foldled) peer up at the Node 2 module in the Space Station Processing Facility. They and other astronauts are familiarizing themselves with the various elements to be installed on the International Space Station on future spaceflights. With construction of the Space Station the primary focus of future shuttle missions, astronaut crews will be working with one or more of the elements and hardware already being processed in the SSPF. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-07pd0266

 
 
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- In the foreground, astronauts Tim Kopra, Michael Fincke, Soichi Noguchi, and Salizhan Sharipov (arms foldled) peer up at the Node 2 module in the Space Station Processing Facility. They and other astronauts are familiarizing themselves with the various elements to be installed on the International Space Station on future spaceflights. With construction of the Space Station the primary focus of future shuttle missions, astronaut crews will be working with one or more of the elements and hardware already being processed in the SSPF. 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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Date

05/02/2007
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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