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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In the Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-134 crew members check out the tools and equipment they'll be using in space. Space shuttle Endeavour's six astronauts are participating in the Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT), which gives them an opportunity for hands-on training and familiarization of the payload they'll be delivering to the International Space Station.    Endeavour is targeted to launch on the STS-134 mission Feb. 27, 2011. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin KSC-2010-5605

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In the Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-134 crew members check out the tools and equipment they'll be using in space. Space shuttle Endeavour's six astronauts are participating in the Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT), which gives them an opportunity for hands-on training and familiarization of the payload they'll be delivering to the International Space Station. Endeavour is targeted to launch on the STS-134 mission Feb. 27, 2011. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin KSC-2010-5605

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In the Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-134 crew members check out the tools and equipment they'll be using in space. Space shuttle Endeavour's six astronauts are participating in the Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT), which gives them an opportunity for hands-on training and familiarization of the payload they'll be delivering to the International Space Station. Endeavour is targeted to launch on the STS-134 mission Feb. 27, 2011. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html. 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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09/11/2010
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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