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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. --   On the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the commander of the STS-124 mission, Mark Kelly, sits in the cockpit of the shuttle training aircraft, or STA.  He is getting ready to practice landing the shuttle on the SLF runway.   The STA is a Grumman American Aviation-built Gulf Stream II jet that was modified to simulate an orbiter's cockpit, motion and visual cues, and handling qualities. In flight, the aircraft duplicates the orbiter's atmospheric descent trajectory from approximately 35,000 feet altitude to landing on a runway.  Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to lift off on the STS-124 mission at 5:02 p.m. May 31. Photo credit:  NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-08pd1468

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the commander of the STS-124 mission, Mark Kelly, sits in the cockpit of the shuttle training aircraft, or STA. He is getting ready to practice landing the shuttle on the SLF runway. The STA is a Grumman American Aviation-built Gulf Stream II jet that was modified to simulate an orbiter's cockpit, motion and visual cues, and handling qualities. In flight, the aircraft duplicates the orbiter's atmospheric descent trajectory from approximately 35,000 feet altitude to landing on a runway. Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to lift off on the STS-124 mission at 5:02 p.m. May 31. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett KSC-08pd1468

 
 
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the commander of the STS-124 mission, Mark Kelly, sits in the cockpit of the shuttle training aircraft, or STA. He is getting ready to practice landing the shuttle on the SLF runway. The STA is a Grumman American Aviation-built Gulf Stream II jet that was modified to simulate an orbiter's cockpit, motion and visual cues, and handling qualities. In flight, the aircraft duplicates the orbiter's atmospheric descent trajectory from approximately 35,000 feet altitude to landing on a runway. Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to lift off on the STS-124 mission at 5:02 p.m. May 31. 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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28/05/2008
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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