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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- This panoramic view of NASA's new mobile launcher, or ML, support structure was taken from the top deck of the space shuttle's mobile launcher platform at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It took about two years to construct the new launcher in the Mobile Launcher Park site, north of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB. The 355-foot-tall structure will support NASA's future human spaceflight program. The base of the launcher is lighter than space shuttle mobile launcher platforms so the crawler-transporter can pick up the heavier load of the tower and a taller rocket. The next step will be to add ground support equipment, such as umbilicals and access arms, for future rocket launches. For information on NASA's future plans, visit www.nasa.gov. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin KSC-2010-4457

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- This panoramic view of NASA's new mobile launcher, or ML, support structure was taken from the top deck of the space shuttle's mobile launcher platform at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It took about two years to construct the new launcher in the Mobile Launcher Park site, north of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB. The 355-foot-tall structure will support NASA's future human spaceflight program. The base of the launcher is lighter than space shuttle mobile launcher platforms so the crawler-transporter can pick up the heavier load of the tower and a taller rocket. The next step will be to add ground support equipment, such as umbilicals and access arms, for future rocket launches. For information on NASA's future plans, visit www.nasa.gov. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin KSC-2010-4457

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- This panoramic view of NASA's new mobile launcher, or ML, support structure was taken from the top deck of the space shuttle's mobile launcher platform at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It took about two years to construct the new launcher in the Mobile Launcher Park site, north of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB. The 355-foot-tall structure will support NASA's future human spaceflight program. The base of the launcher is lighter than space shuttle mobile launcher platforms so the crawler-transporter can pick up the heavier load of the tower and a taller rocket. The next step will be to add ground support equipment, such as umbilicals and access arms, for future rocket launches. For information on NASA's future plans, visit www.nasa.gov. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

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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25/08/2010
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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NASA
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