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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. --   Viewed across an arm of the Banana River, Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on Launch Pad 39A.  At right of the pad is the 300,000-gallon water tower that provides the water for sound suppression during liftoff.  Atlantis rolled out to the pad for the second time before dawn.  First motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building was at 5:02 a.m. EDT. In late February, while Atlantis was on the launch pad, Atlantis' external tank received hail damage during a severe thunderstorm that passed through the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 area. The hail caused visible divots in the giant tank's foam insulation, as well as minor surface damage to about 26 heat shield tiles on the shuttle's left wing. The shuttle was returned to the VAB for repairs. The launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-117 is now targeted for June 8. A flight readiness review will be held on May 30 and 31.  Photo credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley KSC-07pd1201

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- Viewed across an arm of the Banana River, Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on Launch Pad 39A. At right of the pad is the 300,000-gallon water tower that provides the water for sound suppression during liftoff. Atlantis rolled out to the pad for the second time before dawn. First motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building was at 5:02 a.m. EDT. In late February, while Atlantis was on the launch pad, Atlantis' external tank received hail damage during a severe thunderstorm that passed through the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 area. The hail caused visible divots in the giant tank's foam insulation, as well as minor surface damage to about 26 heat shield tiles on the shuttle's left wing. The shuttle was returned to the VAB for repairs. The launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-117 is now targeted for June 8. A flight readiness review will be held on May 30 and 31. Photo credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley KSC-07pd1201

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- Viewed across an arm of the Banana River, Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on Launch Pad 39A. At right of the pad is the 300,000-gallon water tower that provides the water for sound suppression during liftoff. Atlantis rolled out to the pad for the second time before dawn. First motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building was at 5:02 a.m. EDT. In late February, while Atlantis was on the launch pad, Atlantis' external tank received hail damage during a severe thunderstorm that passed through the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 area. The hail caused visible divots in the giant tank's foam insulation, as well as minor surface damage to about 26 heat shield tiles on the shuttle's left wing. The shuttle was returned to the VAB for repairs. The launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-117 is now targeted for June 8. A flight readiness review will be held on May 30 and 31. Photo credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley

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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15/05/2007
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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